Photographs of Early Automobiles

[automobiles; cars and trucks; combustion engine; Seldon, George Baldwin; Ford, Henry]. Group of photographs and ephemera relating to automotive pioneer George Baldwin Selden. This collection includes (1) a family photo album depicting Selden circa 1885; (2) a carte-de-visite of Selden circa 1871; (3) three handsome mounted albumen photographs circa 1910, presumably depicting Selden cars; (4) a later photograph of a Selden motor truck; (5) a photostat copy of a legal illustration, “Comparative Scale Drawings of Selden Vehicle”; and (6) a 1920 company pamphlet titled “Yesterday Today Tomorrow.” The photo album (1), contains 18 cartes-de-visite, showing men, women, and children, identified by name (in a contemporary hand, in ink); family names include Woodruff, Tomlinson, Sayre, Drake, Rogers and — of course — Seldon. The single carte-de-visite of Seldon (2), was taken by O. F. Weaver of Chicago; a handwritten notation on the verso indicates that it was taken in 1871 as the fire of October 8, 1870, “closed his business venture barrel hoop machinery.” The mounted albumen photos (3) range in size from 5.75×7.5 to about 7.5×9.5 inches, in excellent condition, on heavy dark grey mounts with wide margins; showing a couple or a group of gents in Selden cars; it is charminging to see onlookers peering from the windows of the building in the background. A single photograph, c. 1915, 6.5×4 inches, shows a Selden motor truck (4), loaded with Brass Goods from Henry Wray and Sons. Photostat copy (5) of a legal illustration (18.5×7.5 inches, with flattened creases from folding, and a little smudging), shows comparative scale drawings of Selden Vehicle, with 2 H. P. Engine of Selden, and of Brayton, Otto, Otto-Langen, and Lenoir; showing single- and 3-cylinder engines, and listing the weight, speed, and horsepower of the engine. The company pamphlet (6) offers of 4 different Selden trucks, plus text. Very Good+.

George Baldwin Selden (1846-1922) invented an early lightweight combustion engine intended for use in a four-wheeled vehicle, and applied for a patent in 1879. This gives him some claim to be the inventor of the automobile. The patent went through years of legal challenges before being granted in 1895, and then faced further decades of lawsuits from Henry Ford and others, eventually suffering defeat in 1911. In the meantime, he launched the Selden Motor Vehicle Company in 1905, moving into truck manufacture after his patent defeat. (Selden trucks are shown in the aformentioned pamphlet, “Yesterday Today Tomorrow.”) (#D11847) $950.00

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