Archival Processing Methdology: Part 4

The last methodology post left off with a discussion of the General Publications subseries. The last two subseries to discuss are Media Information and Serials.

As usual, I’d like to start with a refresher of the arrangement hierarchy (click on the linked subseries names below to read more about their arrangements in our previous methodology posts):

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 Media Information subseries contains press releases and media kits. These come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Many are just traditional folders containing printed press releases, with a selection of photographs and slides. Others are shaped like gas tanks or are wrapped in bandanas and contain electronic media such as floppy discs, CDs, or flash drives.

These kits are arranged by motor show, model, or subject. Motor shows represented prominently include North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Frankfurt Motor Show, Geneva Motor Show, Paris Motor Show, and New York International Auto Show, among others. If the kit is not indicated for a specific show, but instead a model, it is filed under that model’s name. If the kit is not for a show or a model, but instead discusses a particular subject, such as safety features or new hybrid or environmental advances, the kit will be filed under the subject (i.e. Safety Features or Environmental Initiatives). Lastly, if a kit covers multiple topics or models, it is simply filed under Press Releases and arranged chronologically. This is where you will find many kits advertising a company’s full line-up when kits were not designed for a specific motor show.

Serials are largely made up of reprints of articles from automotive magazines. Frequently represented titles include The Motor, Road & Track, Autocar, and Car and Driver. Also included in this group are complete issues of serials published by particular companies, often directed at owners of their vehicles. The number of issues varies from company to company. Sometimes decades are represented with every issue included; other times, there is just a scattered issue here or there.

Keep in mind that the serials contained in this section are only those that are produced by a specific company or about a specific company. General automotive serials will be cataloged in the regular Library Catalog.

This wraps up all of the subseries in the Automobile Makes series. Future methodology posts will highlight challenges such as foreign languages and undated materials. Use the comments section for any questions or comments.

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

Celebrity Endorsements: Ed Sullivan and Mercury

This article kicks off a new series of posts that will feature celebrities and their endorsements of automobiles.  We begin with Ed Sullivan and Mercury.

Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town, later known as The Ed Sullivan Show, entertained the American public for over 20 years. Televising stand-up comedians, celebrity appearances, and musical talent, Sullivan and his extremely talented permanent cast introduced America to the rising stars of the era. His show was known to be the “showcase for top name talent” and featured more than just the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

Featuring the premiere performances of Elvis, the Beatles, and Rodney Dangerfield, just to name a few, The Ed Sullivan Show also advertised products to the American public. In today’s variety shows, commercials are a common and integral part of the show. This concept was no different for Sullivan. He introduced America to top-name talents while also introducing advertisements for top-name products, which included Mercury automobiles, a rising star in its own industry.

During the show, Sullivan would talk about Mercury for a one minute spot advertising its comfort and safety features. To complement the live commercial spots, Mercury published trade catalogs featuring both Sullivan and his Mercury cruising around New York City. One of the trade catalogs also featured him visiting the factory where Mercury automobiles were manufactured. These further connected the advertising campaign featuring Sullivan and Mercury.

Cover of a catalog featuring Ed Sullivan as Mercury's celebrity spokesman.

When The Toast of the Town, celebrated its 7th anniversary, Mercury offered deals on its cars, further cementing the two brands together. According to the publication, Sullivan says of Mercury, “These new Mercurys are the best yet. I personally talked to the workmen who make them, and they told me – and showed me why – no car is better made than Mercury.” Sullivan goes on to declare that it pays to own a Mercury because he drives one himself.

As a result, Mercury was placed among a league of top stars featured on the show. Through its association with such prominent celebrities, Mercury gained notoriety as a top automobile brand. Mercury gained fame not only as an affordable and reliable automobile, but as one used by celebrities, such as Sullivan. By showing Sullivan driving his Mercury, it demonstrated that Mercury could cross economic boundaries because it was affordable to most, but looked like the upscale automobiles bought by movie and television stars.

Ed Sullivan Says : “Take it From Me– the Big Move is to Mercury,” 1954
“History of the Ed Sullivan.” The Official Ed Sullivan Site. (accessed February 6, 2012).

Also, don’t forget to check out the post from earlier in the week about the Society of Automotive Historian’s conference to provide comments on what you want to know about the Vinson Collection!

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

Automotive History Conference, April 12-14, 2012

As mentioned in previous post, Mr. Vinson was an active member of the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH), having served as both its president and editor of its Automotive History Review. In April, SAH will be holding its Ninth Biennial Automotive History Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I will be speaking at the conference on Saturday April 14th about the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection. After my presentation, there will be an afternoon tour of Hagley Museum and Library. The tour will include a trip to the Library to see some of the treasures of the Vinson Collection first hand.

I wanted to take this opportunity to see if any of our readers will be attending the conference and if so, what questions do you have about the collection? Is there anything in particular that you’re dying to know? Please post any thought, questions, or comments below so that I can try to address as many of these items as possible in my presentation. I look forward to meeting many of you there! Thank you in advance for any input you can offer. For more information about the conference, visit the Society of Automotive Historian’s website.

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

What happened to World War II?

The Vinson Collection is not only a great resource for studying the marketing and manufacturing of automobiles but also for examining major historical events of the 20th century. One such event is World War II. It stands out so pointedly in the collection because it is missing. Many American and European companies with histories tracing back before 1939, did not produce marketing literature between the years 1939 and 1945. Because there was no material produced during this time, it can be assumed that no passenger automobiles were being produced.

Many automobile companies turned over their manufacturing facilities to wartime production. However, some European automobile companies didn’t produce anything due to destruction. Peugeot in France and Rover in England had their manufacturing complexes partially or completely destroyed within a matter of minutes during WWII. Though damaged during the war, these two companies in particular were determined to rebuild and rebrand after the war.

Click to view the 1946 Peugeot catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

The French automobile manufacturer, Peugeot was determined to stay afloat. Headquartered in Sochaux, near the western border of France, Peugeot’s factories were severely damaged or utterly destroyed by German bombs. One trade catalog dated 1946, shows the damage done. However, this catalog is also a celebratory piece of rebuilding efforts. Titled, Salon 1946 Renaissance de L’Automobile, Peugeot announced its return to the automobile manufacturing world. With support from American and British suppliers, Peugeot went from producing no cars in 1944, to producing 110 cars a day by the end of 1946! These included 2-door, 4-door, and even commercial truck models.

Rover, a British company, also published material on the effects of the war on its company. Rover’s facilities at Coventry were completely annihilated during German air raids in 1940 and 1941. After the war, the British government turned over unused facilities at Solihull to Rover, so that they could rebuild their automobile production lines. Published in 1948, The New Home of the Rover Company, trade catalog describes the effects of the war, and the efforts that Rover took to rebuild and rebrand their company after they moved to Solihull. Showing photographs of mostly how Rover cars are built, the catalog also contains a two-page spread on the damage done at its Coventry plant (one of these pages is shown below).

A page from the 1948 Rover publication. Click to view the complete publication in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Automobile companies often rallied around their home country and became symbols of economic prosperity. Both Peugeot and Rover are great examples of how automobiles can define a country’s pride and economic resolve.

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

Treasures: 1919 Fageol Catalog

Cover of the 1919 Fageol catalog. Click to view the item in the Hagley Digital Archives.

This week’s treasure is a 1919 catalog from the Fageol Motors Company of Oakland, California. The following is how Mr. Vinson describes the item in his own words on page 65 of A Collector’s Life: An Autobiography, “The Fageol was a bizarre California car made only in a couple of examples. This hardbound small catalogue/portfolio is therefore rare.”

The catalog is heavily illustrated and spends significant space describing in detail the technical specifications and attributes of the vehicles. Inside the back cover are several images showing potential designs for these custom vehicles.

Fageol Two Passenger Speedster. Click to view the entire catalog in the Hagley Digital Archives.

According to the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, only two cars were known to have actually been built. One of these was a victoria phaeton that was used in exhibition and demonstration to potential customers.

The cover of the catalog (as shown above) has, “Mr. Horace M. Swetland” printed on it. It seems that this is referring to a publisher at that time who founded Swetland Publishing. Mr. Swetland was also instrumental in the founding of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). From the SAE’s history on their website,

Likewise, Horace Swetland used his editorial pen to become the defacto voice of the automobile engineer of that day, and he became an original SAE officer. Swetland was a man who would leave an indelible mark on the path of SAE history. A mere 27 months after Heldt’s editorial the Society of Automobile Engineers was born. Headquartered in a New York City office, four officers and five managing officers volunteered their time and energy to the cause.

I have no definitive answer as to why Mr. Swetland’s name is on the cover of this catalog. My best guess is that he was in some way affiliated with the Fageol Motors Company. Or, perhaps he was simply the publisher of the catalog? These two suggestions are just conjecture and I defer to our automotive experts out there. If any of our readers have more insight about this unique item, I would love to hear about it in the comments section!

“An Abridged History of Sae.” SAE International. (accessed February 1, 2012).
Georgano, Nick, ed. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of The Automobile (2 Volume Set) Volume 1: A-L; Volume 2: M-Z. Norwich, England: The Stationery Office, 2000.

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