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.
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. http://www.sae.org/about/general/history/ (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.