A few of my old car buddies are trying to talk me into creating a brass lamp reference. This may be a retirement project if I can manage to align my available time and resources to match my curiosity about the topic. I'm aware of only a few very generic picture type books that were ever published on early automotive lighting. What I envision is a more comprehensive work with photos from collections of lamps, museum exhibits, advertising and info from early catalogs. This will involve a lot of research to learn more about the companies that manufactured early lamps - Dietz, Gray and Davis, Solar, Neverout, Hall, etc.etc. Naturally, it would have to also cross the pond and include information for Lucas, and even some French/German makers in the early days. Big project. Not even sure if I will do it, but am beginning to find some info and resources that might make it feasible.
At this point I'd like to know if there are any big brass lamp collections out there. What info do you have or know of? Getting Ford specific, I'd want to include a section on Ford lamps so there must be a lot of expertise here. What about Pre Model T? When did Ford contract with various manufacturers to supply lamps, or were Pre-Model T lamps dealer installed? I've got the info from existing Model T reference books and that's all great, but what about the earlier cars?
My own collection is small and eclectic, and what info I have is contained in some early auto accessory catalogs offering various lamps for sale. Thanks in advance for any input and if you want to talk me into or out of this, have at it.
Hi Terry, Yes, that would be a great project! I believe you could write a book about it that would sell for sure. You would definitely have your work cut out and biggest problem will be concrete evidence to establish what light or lights went on each car. Put me down for book #1!
Terry, it is a great idea! If it were me, I would do volume 1 on American products and volume 2 on European products. Make it a more controllable project. Put me down for volume 1!
I would recommend you check out the Horseless Carriage Foundation research library at: https://www.hcfi.org/ Several of the Horseless Carriage Club of America folks got together and started that. It has a wealth of early automotive documents and you can do research online without having to drive to there.
Ref your question "What info do you have or know of? Getting Ford specific, I'd want to include a section on Ford lamps so there must be a lot of expertise here. What about Pre Model T? When did Ford contract with various manufacturers to supply lamps, or were Pre-Model T lamps dealer installed? I've got the info from existing Model T reference books and that's all great, but what about the earlier cars? "
Carlton Pate in his book "Pate's Early Ford Automobile Encyclopedia" (available from the author at: http://dunlavy.us/carlpate/index.htm and vendors at: https://www.modeltford.com/item/PATE-ENCY.aspx ) shares that for the A, C, & F cars all the lamps could be purchased from the dealer -- and whatever company the dealer liked is what they offered. And of course an owner could purchase whatever brand he wanted from other sellers. For the B, K, R, S and S Roadster the side lamps were included from the factory -- but the other lamps were accessories. On the Model N it was available without any lamps or it could be purchased with the accessory lamps from the factory. (Ref pages 44 - 45 of "Pate's Early Ford Automobile Encyclopedia." )
For the Model N, R, S & SR more details are available. And for your search -- you may find that the import tariff information for lamps imported into Canada may provide additional clues. Somewhere on my computer I have the model numbers and make of side lamps that were listed on those ledgers for the Model N cars that Canada produced.
I know I would gladly help on the Ford section and I'm sure there are many other here as well as the Early Ford Registry that would be willing to help out also. And there are also many members who have other antique autos with connections for other makes etc.
It is always helpful to have additional research on items. New information is discovered that can confirm the original information was accurate or perhaps needs to be expanded or even corrected.
And for your Ford section, I would recommend you consider making your your data available to the MTFCA research library. I believe they will be a catalyst for keeping the information available for future generations.
I would even offer that if you do your information by automobile make, and then cross reference the lamp maker and style, that it will allow you to complete some sections quickly and give you a feeling of completeness. And then cross referencing the lamp model would allow you to show the know makes that used the same lamp (probably with different logos embossed).
Good luck on your project.
Hap l9l5 cut off
(Message edited by Hap_tucker on March 07, 2018)
I certainly do hope you will pursue this. Benson Ford Archives is said to contain vast records of early supplier transactions where some percentage of this material remains non-cataloged. A gentleman well known to the MTFCA was visiting BFA recently to study among other data, early brass horns. The BFA records name some 7 different horn suppliers doing business with Ford at the time when the Model T appeared. I recently posted information here where multiple 09's that I have researched, have lamps that were determined to have been made by the Indiana Lamp Co. of Connersville. Others here may have heard of the early T using these lamps, but I had not. Also hoping there is similar research interest in the running board generators. As per early photos, there appear to be an array of different styles and manufacturers, where these tanks don not necessarily correspond to the manufacturer of the lamps on an example auto.
Good idea Terry but awesome in scope and expected research. Wife and I honeymooned in Ouray, CO back in ‘93 and I stumbled upon the most gargantuan early auto brass lamp collection I ever knew existed. His name is Benji and I think he’s in the HCCA directory but I’m not home now. He has thousands of polished lights. Good luck..
Thanks to everyone for tips, leads, hints and suggestions. I've posted also on the AACA website and will be talking with the editor for HCCA about additional research. Meantime I'm trying to find copies of the reference works previously done on brass lamps. I don't believe there was a lot of serious research put into them and they were just a collection of ads and photos. Hardest part will bee trying to put together a list of what cars used which lamps, if it's even possible. Seems only a few ever had their own lamps. I'll need to seek professional publishing advice eventually, especially where any copyright from other sources of info or photos might be needed. So far I've got at least a dozen copies spoken for so it'll need to be a long-term labor of love if I decide to tackle it. It may end up like a lot of projects - never ending! Will let you know if I decide to do this.