I recently visited the Benson Ford Research Center for a day to see what I can find about Ford and the Model T in Imperial Russia (pre-1914). I was looking for photos and information about the Ford dealerships and their activities (sales numbers, photos of the dealerships and of Ts at the car exhibitions, etc).
As it turns out I wasn't the first person to look into this topic. Boris Shpotov, a senior researcher in economic history at the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences had visited several years ago to do research for his book "Henry Ford: life and business" (this book is in Russian and the Benson has a copy).
I was told that the FoMoCo photo archive section was set up in 1917? so many of the original photos used in the Ford Times before then are lost.
I also didn't come across any correspondence to or from Ford's only dealer at the time in Russia.
My only source of photos/information was the Ford Times.
I found mention in a Ford Times that cars exported to Russia (and certain other countries; but Australia was not one of them) were built and crated in Detroit. With the article was a photo of a partially disassembled car in a large crate. I didn't have time to check the accounts receivable ledgers to see how many cars and when were shipped to Russia; but being the cars were made in Detroit it's likely this information exists.
In other Ford Times I was able to find some great photos and articles about the model T in Imperial Russia that I haven't seen before so it was a day well spent at the Benson.
In looking for photos I came across a bunch of nice ones of brass Ts in far away places like the Dutch East Indies, Indonesia, India, etc. There was one fantastic photo of a 1910? Town Car in front of the Sphinx/Pyramids in Egypt.
Here is a photo of a Ford vehicle in Harbin, China (Russian Far East) with a Ford dealership on the left(in Cyrillic alphabet) about 1924.
I bought this post card from a fellow in Russia.
Ron the Coilman
Chapter 15 in Chas Sorenson's book is titled 'Russian Adventure'. My Forty Years with Ford.
After vainly searching I found the photo.
Ron the Coilman
Public Image of Henry Ford by David Lewis
Ford Expansion & Challenge by Allen Nevins
Both of these books have significant information on Ford's Russian business dealings.
I have a huge collection of Ford related books, information and HF signatures. It took me 30 minutes to locate my copy of the book Luke was referring to.
It is "The History of Ford in Australia" By Norm Darwin. There are several copies available in "Stralia" on www.abe.com. Simply search the title.
And remember never loan a hard to find book.
Ron the Coilman
Ron, I keep my Nevins & Hill Trilogy on my desk along with several other frequently referenced Ford books. The other 1000 or so are in boxes, in other rooms, the garage. I need to build more bookshelves!
At the risk of threadjacking, I picked up a Ford Employee version of "The Ford Century" for $1.00 at a local thrift store the other day. While not rare by any means, it did make the day a bit better.
Interesting photo Ron, thanks!
Thanks for your replies Dave and Luke. Do the books you mention cover Imperial Russia or Soviet Russia? I did come across a fair bit of information and photos from the 1920s and 1930s at the Benson but I'm only interested in 1914 or eariler.
The billboard in the background reads "Chevrol..." Unmistakable, and definitely not a Russian word.
Yes, I noticed that too but I didn't want to hijack my own post!
The Nevins & Hill book has a section in the back dedicated to Russia. This portion of the book does go a bit beyond the 1914 cutoff and into the early '30s, but it's still good reading! Pages 673-684
You may be able to find an electronic copy online, I know I've seen at least one of the Nevins & Hill books in an 'e-reader' type format.