My guess, and it is just a guess, is that trucks followed the lead of attractively painted horse drawn wagons and trailers. Wood and metal had to be painted, and original wagons and trucks appear to have had a wide variety of colors. Maybe one of the steam engine/threshers will weigh in:
If a truck were used by a business, I expect they'd have it painted in some colors which would attract attention. And they'd have the name of the business painted in large letters, and a phone number if they had one.
Agreed. My stake bed is original wood. As I was stripping off the silver spray paint I saw evidence of very old pin striping. I think originally it was painted black with the cab a Granny Smith apple green.
A few years ago I bought a TT grain bed, that had never been well cared for, that had been in side for at least 50 years, ( its current use was storage for hog food) that was painted light blue. Almost like a milk paint blue.
I would agree with Rob and Mike. If there was any reason to paint them
up for advertising or "glamour", they would do it. If it was just a farm truck,
prolly not so much, but they would have painted them, or hit the wood with
linseed oil to preserve it against the elements.
The latter-day thing that car guys have for bright raw wood hit with a coat
of clear is just plain silly from the pragmatic mindset of the times. There was
"no room" for "pretty" on the farm or otherwise. It was all about practical use
and minimizing wear/maintenance. There were no car shows and parades ...
at least not the kind of parades where the T was there as a novelty.
I was looking through some old ads from a coach builder. Their Depot Hack bodies, were indeed natural finish, but EVERY single one of the other bodies said they were painted green. Of course, a customer could re-paint any color he wanted, and perhaps, he could special order a different color or unfinished wood so he could paint it himself, but if you just ordered a stock truck body from that company (Don't remember who, now), it was a-gonna be green.
Hal, .... this prolly explains why "woodies" evolved as natural finish like they did.
I would submit that few TT's were built for such "frilly" service as carting folks about,
and thusly got a more practical slopping of paint or linseed oil and went to work.
Yeah, I agree. I don't care for the natural finish so many people like to do today. Yes, the wood is beautiful and if it were a piece of furniture, it'd be one thing, but I truly believe VERY few trucks were finished natural back in the day.
I have a friend who restores antique cars for a living. He had a customer with a 50's era Chevy pickup. The customer dang near had a heart attack when he saw that my friend had painted the wood in the floor of the truck bed rather than doing a natural finish. He was OK with it once my buddy explained that they came from the factory that way. The customer wanted to enter it into AACA judged meets and it had to be done to not have points deducted, but he was disappointed to find out that they were painted from the factory and his would not have the beautiful natural finish so common at local car shows.
When I was looking at a house built in the early 1900's in a historic district, I was questioning why all of the wood was painted. It was explained that in the late 1800's paint was becoming more durable and more available and the people of the time were tired of "natural" wood and wanted bright colors through out the house to make it more welcoming. I guess if paint were a new thing you would want to keep up with the Smith's ... and I suppose it would carry over to cars and trucks