Cadillac and the Mystery Baseball Score

Most catalogs in the Vinson collection have nothing more written on them than dates, prices of the cars from salesman, or prices from the person later selling the piece of literature. Occasionally, however, one encounters something completely different. This was the case with the Cadillac Motor Cars catalog, shown here. According to the date written on the front cover, this catalog is from 1928.

Cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Inside the front and back cover, someone has used this catalog to keep score for a baseball game. It leads you to wonder about the story behind this item. Did the individual have the catalog lying around at home and was keeping score while listening to the game on the radio? Or were they driving to the game in person and wanted something on which to keep score and found this catalog lying in their back seat? Or was the game from an era completely different from the catalog that may have just been lying around as a convenient writing surface at the time? We will never know for sure.

For inside the front cover, the box score identifies the game as between St. Louis and the A’s. From this, we can make the educated guess that this refers to the St. Louis Cardinals (Thanks to Emmett for the tip!) and the Philadelphia A’s (who would go on to become the Oakland Athletics). The final score of this game was 8-7 in the favor of the A’s. On the opposite page, there is even the long division where the scorekeeper worked out the player’s batting averages.

Inside front cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

The box score for the game in the back cover is much more badly faded, but one is still able to make out that it is between the same two teams. The final score of this game was 7-5 with St. Louis winning. Perhaps these games were played as a double header? Or just part of the same homestand? Again, questions to which we will never have the answers.

Inside back cover, click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

In case anyone is wondering if this scorekeeping was done by Mr. Vinson, there is no way of knowing for sure but I would suspect not for three reasons. First, he was born in 1933, so if this catalog is from 1928 and used to keep score around that time, he was either not born or very, very young. Second, the handwriting does not even remotely resemble any of the writing samples we have from him. Third, as a passionate lover of automobile literature, it seems extremely unlikely that Mr. Vinson would treat a catalog like a piece of scrap paper. Even as a child, he mentions one of his biggest regrets being that he cut photos out of car catalogs, but I think it is quite a jump from cutting out pictures of cars to enjoy them and treating a catalog like a notepad.

While this blog post holds more questions than answers, it shows you the kinds of mysteries that archivists often encounter. Collections will often provide many of these questions about where or when items came from. Perhaps we have some rabid baseball fans out there reading this and they’ll help to solve part of this mystery by figuring out when these games took place. If anyone out there does feel up to the challenge, please post your findings in the comments section as I’m sure we’d all love to know what you find!

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the comments section where some of our readers are helping to solver our mystery!

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Packard Motor Car Company – “Ask the Man Who Owns One”

The Packard Motor Car Company was founded in 1899 in Warren, Ohio as the New York & Ohio Automobile Company. James Ward Packer founded the company after purchasing a Winton in 1898, with which he was extremely unsatisfied. When he brought the car back to Winton, they told him that if he was so smart he could build a car himself.

James Ward Packer built the first Packard car with his brother in their electric bell and lamp factory. They also had help from two men they poached from Winton. The first car was complete in November of 1899.

The first advertisement to use the slogan, “Ask the man who owns one,” came in October of 1901. By the time this ad came out, Packard already had a prestigious owner on its side in New York millionaire William D. Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller previously drove Winton cars.

Cover of "Packard 1899-1945." Click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

An anecdote retelling the creation of Packard’s slogan is featured in many of the company’s histories, including, “Packard 1899-1945.” The following is the retelling that is used over and over again in Packard literature often with slight variation in the wording, but the gist always remains the same:

Time: 1902.  Place: Office of J. W. Packard.  His secretary speaks: “Here’s a letter from a man who wants information about the dependability of Packard cars.”  Replies Mr. Packard: “Since we have no sales literature yet, tell him to just ‘ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE.’”  Thus was born the Packard slogan.  This 43 year slogan expresses the confidence Packard has in its product.

Cover of "Story of a Living Legend." Click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

This anecdote does date the slogan in 1902, but most other sources agree that it was first used in 1901. See Packard: a history of the motor car and the company, pg. 42 for a facsimile of the original advertisement featuring the slogan, which is dated October 1901.

In addition to the 1945 publication quoted above, the collection includes a later company history called “Story of a Living Legend.” This was published in 1955 is available in the Hagley Digital Archives or by clicking on the image to the left.

The company would become affiliated with Studebaker in 1955. The Packard name lasted through the 1958 models and it was then discontinued.

Several modern-day advertising campaigns emulate the “ask the man who owns one” mentality. For example, in July 2010, Hyundai launched the Hyundai ‘Uncensored’ campaign. The press release states,

Hyundai ‘Uncensored’ was born out of the insight that consumers are most influenced by other consumers, so we captured totally organic conversations from people inside our cars and packaged them into an integrated campaign.

The 30-second commercials are available by searching “uncensored” on Hyundai’s official YouTube channel.

In April 2011, Ford took its “Drive one” campaign to the next level with a series of commercials placing real Ford owners into faux press conferences. The premise clearly being that car companies are realizing that a consumer is perhaps more likely to listen to another consumer than to a celebrity spokesperson. Granted, it hardly seems that this will mean the end of celebrity endorsements, but I think it will be interesting to see if this trend continues to grow or expand into other industries.

To learn more about the Packard company and its “Ask the man who owns one” advertising campaigns, there are a number of books in the library’s collection. Among them are Packard: ask the man who owns one, by Otto A. Schroeder, and an 828-page comprehensive history called Packard: a history of the motor car and the company, edited by Beverly Rae Kimes. These books, and the others in Hagley’s collection, can be found by searching the Library Catalog. Also, there are more Packard items from the Vinson collection not mentioned here that have been scanned and are available in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.

Treasures: Automobile “Ancetres”

The Vinson Collection contains about 120 years of automobile literature. From an 1893 catalog on bicycles and gasoline automobile models to 2010 model year catalogs, Mr. Vinson was dedicated to collecting as much automobile literature as possible including the rarest pieces of literature. Among his collection are catalogs dated pre-1900, which he writes about on page 63 of A Collector’s Life: An Autobiography:

I rather think of these as the incunabula of automotive literature, and, of late, have taken an interest in them. The French refer to cars of this era as “Ancetres.” Thus far, the oldest item in my collection is an 1893 Peugeot catalogue on bicycles, the last page of which shows two “voitures á gasoline.” I have the 1894 version as well. The oldest catalogue devoted purely to cars is a Panhard catalogue dated July 1895. My collection also includes, from 1896, an informative Amedee Bollee folder, an E. Roger folder, and a Panhard catalogue dated December 1896; folders on the Darracq and Gauthier-Wehrle cars from 1897 or so, and a lovely but incomplete 1898 Panhard catalogue and electric auto sheet. In age these are followed by an American item, the 1898 Barrow, then back to France for the 1899 de Dietrich, Mors, and Delahaye catalogues and a Decauville folder of the same vintage. Just making the 1800′s is a Peugeot catalogue dated November 1899.

Peugeot catalog, 1893.

The French dominated the early period of automobile literature. Though Karl Benz, a German, holds the distinction of inventing the modern automobile, the French were enthusiastic about producing cars and advertising literature. One American example (which will be the subject of a later blog, so stay tuned!) falls in just before 1900, but otherwise there are only French materials represented in this early era. The oldest piece of literature, dated 1893, contains specifications for both Peugeot bicycles and motor carriage models. Providing few images, but lots of specifications, this trade catalog seeks to explain the principles behind the new mode of transportation being advertised. Bound together with an 1894 version of the same catalog, both represent the transition from manual bicycles to motorized, independent transportation.

A page from the 1895 Panhard catalog.

As Mr. Vinson mentions above, his oldest piece of automobile literature solely advertising motorized automobiles is an 1895 Panhard catalog. With a dark green cover, gold lettering, and plenty of descriptive specifications, this piece of literature provides a look into how the French were advertising this new technology as well. These early automobiles were also incredibly expensive, and manufacturers had to describe in their literature why this new technology was needed. In short, they had to make the automobile appealing, approachable, and attractive to new consumers and to the industrializing world.

Robin Valencia is the Graduate Assistant for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.


Archival Processing Methodology: Part 3

So far our methodology discussion has covered corporate hierarchy changes, as well as the first subseries, Trade Catalogs. As you may recall, this subseries is separated into Specific Model, Various Model, and Fleet Vehicle trade catalogs. Today, I’d like to describe the second subseries, called General Publications. Before we dive in, here is a quick refresher of the collection’s overall hierarchy:

Series 1. Automobile Makes
1.1 Car Make
1.1.1 Trade catalogs Specific Models Various Models Fleet Vehicles
1.1.2. General Publications
1.1.3. Media Information
1.1.4. Serials

The simplest way to understand the General Publications category is as the “Everything but…” subseries. It includes everything but trade catalogs, media kits, and serials. As you might imagine, this can include an extremely wide array of items. To make sense of it all, we sort them by topic or subject.

Here is a list of frequently used divisions:

  • Accessory Catalogs
  • Apparel Catalogs
  • Color and Upholstery Selections
  • Company Overviews (includes corporate histories)
  • Dealer Mailings
  • Environmental Initiatives
  • Narrative Catalogs
  • Owner’s Manuals
  • Price Lists
  • Promotional Items (i.e. coloring books, comic books, other two-dimensional freebies.)
  • Safety Features
  • Salesman Literature
  • Technology and Innovation

This list is just a small sample of the categories that you will see on the finished finding aid. Also, our list is always expanding and changing since processing a new company often means finding a type of publication that you haven’t encountered before. If there are any particular items of note within one of these categories (something rare or that is likely to be of interest to researchers), there will be specific mention in the narrative portion of the finding aid. (As a reminder, each subseries of the finding aid will have a narrative description, as well as a complete box and folder list displaying all the folders in the subseries.)

Feel free to post any questions you might have about the methodology or arrangement in the comments section below.

In the coming weeks, our next methodology post will explore the final two subseries, Media Information and Serials. Until then, come back next week to learn about some of the oldest items in the Vinson Collection.

Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.