Rockville Garage Hudson Motor Car Ads (1919-1920)
The advertisements in this post do more than just simply pitch a product, they capture a moment in history. A moment in history when Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage represented several franchise nameplates along with Dodge, including Oldsmobile, Hudson, and Essex. The Hudson and Oldsmobile were sold at Reed Brothers from roughly 1917 through 1923.
Hudson introduced the Essex brand in 1919. The Essex was intended to compete with Ford and Chevrolet for budget-minded buyers. The Essex offered one of the first affordable sedans and by 1925 the combined Hudson and Essex sales made Hudson the third largest automobile manufacturer in the United States.
Prior to the advent of television and radio advertising, print media was the most popular form of advertising and most car ads were black and white. The following ads distributed by the Lambert Automobile Company in The Baltimore Sun newspaper advertises the Hudson and Essex automobiles.
In addition to franchise car dealers, there were also factory stores. In the early days, the factory stores did the national advertising. A factory store, also known as a branch store or branch dealer, was a dealership owned and run by the manufacturer. A list of area Dealers was placed in fine print at the bottom of the ads. Rockville Garage, Rockville, Md, is highlighted in yellow on each of these ads.
By the 1920s, Hudson and Essex Motor Car advertisements featured elegant architectural borders with static drawings of their cars; some ads never pictured people during this period.
A lot of old newspapers have found their way online and with digital archival, it’s easier to take a trip back through old newspapers than ever before. These ads were found on NewspaperARCHIVE.com, the largest historical newspaper database online.
Graham Brothers Trucks
History fascinates me, and something about the development of the Dodge pickup truck fascinates me even more. It’s a story inextricably linked to our country’s history like baseball and apple pie.
After the introduction of mass-produced automobiles, people started to modify their vehicles for enhanced utility. These people stripped off the rear bodywork and mounted open-topped boxes that resembled the first step towards the modern pickup truck.
Dodge trucks actually began with three brothers named Graham. In reality, it is the story of two companies – the Dodge Brothers Company and the Graham Brothers Company. In 1916, seeing the need for a good, dependable truck to serve people such as themselves, the Graham brothers entered the truck body business. By 1919, they had produced the “Truck-builder,” which is a basic platform from which a customer could spec a truck according to his or her needs. The Truck Builder was essentially a truck conversion that began with a passenger car. The Truck Builder worked this way: The new-car dealer would sell a new car to a customer, then suggest to the buyer that his old car could be converted into a truck.
In 1921, Dodge Brothers began to market Graham Brothers medium-duty trucks through its dealerships; in turn, every Graham vehicle utilized a Dodge engine. This partnership provided Dodge dealers with a full line of trucks to sell in addition to the highly regarded Dodge passenger cars, and the resulting sales increases prompted Dodge to buy the Graham Brothers Company.
The Dodge trucks would carry the Graham Brothers nameplate until 1928 with a few of the designs lasting as long as the 1930s.
1976 Showroom & Car Lot
I found these two gems while looking through some of my old photo albums. The top photo shows what appears to be a 1976 Dodge Charger displayed on the showroom floor at Reed Brothers. Usually, the flashiest of the new models, spit-shined to perfection, would be displayed inside the showroom. Banners touting the new models were also strung up in the showroom.
In the second photo, nothing screams 1970s like the line of beige and baby blue cars all lined up in rows on the side lot. Across the road is the big barn that said, “MILK FOR THOMPSON’S DAIRY” on the field that is now the new urban development known as King Farm. I remember Lawson King’s dairy cows. Lots of them! They used to graze in the fields just a few feet from the roadway right across the road. At its peak, King Farm was the largest milk producer in the area and had been in agricultural use for nearly 75 years before it was approved for development in 1996.
Reed Brothers was founded and franchised as a Dodge dealership in 1915; only one year after the first Dodge automobile was made. Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge. Reed Brothers was a successful company, combining car sales, auto accessories and repair service. They also sold Fisk Tires which were made in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.
After seeing the Fisk Tire signs in the photos below, I was curious to learn more about the company and the tires that they made. The history of the Fisk Tire Company is relatively obscure, but as far as is known, Noyes W. Fisk purchased a failing rubber manufacturing company in 1898. Fisk continued the company under his own name and branched out to sell automobile tires. By 1904, most of the country’s major car manufacturers were buying Fisk tires. The tire business, along with many other businesses, fell upon hard times during the great depression. Despite all the country’s hardships, Fisk survived and introduced its new Safti-Flight tire in 1930, and it proved to be an impressive success. (click images to enlarge)
Below is an ad I found in the September 18, 1915 edition of Automobile Topics that gives you an idea of the cost of tires at the time, which was considerable.
Source: Chicopee (Google eBook)
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