Putting on the Ritz – The Model A Ford Town Car Sedan Delivery

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  • 1931 Ford Model A Town Car Sedan Delivery – Coachwork by Briggs.

Recently we posted a photo of an interesting M.C. Rogers Engineering Co. Model A Ford Sedan Delivery and were unsuccessful in learning who constructed its body. At some point years ago we found a reference that is not readily at hand to the many various different makers of Ford commercial and sedan delivery bodies; Ford at the time had many of its bodies produced by outside suppliers and we have now found an excellent online source you may find useful.

ftcdAfter a bit of searching, we were able to find a treasure trove of information on the subject of 1908 to 1941 Ford Commercial Bodies at Coachbuilt, one of the best online sources to be found on the subject of coachbuilders. There it was learned that this attractive and exclusive-looking body was introduced in 1930, and is called the Model A Ford Type 295-A Town Car Delivery; the builder was the Briggs Manufacturing Co. of Detroit, Michigan.

This pair of Town Car Sedan Deliveries were both photographed in the fall of 1931, quite late in the last year of production of the Model A Ford. Both images are courtesy of The Henry Ford.

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  • 1931 Ford Model A Town Car Sedan Delivery – Coachwork by Briggs.

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Bibendum – The Larger Than Life Michelin Man

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  •   A 1914  postcard offering this image as a 21 x 29-inch poster for ten cents

By Matthew Hocker:

Bibendum is Michelin’s metaphorical superhero and, like any comic book character, he comes with a fascinating origin story. In 1889, French brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin set out to work on what would become the first detachable pneumatic tires. Up until that point, replacement of tires was complicated and time consuming.  In fact the brother’s quest was inspired by the replacement of a customer’s inflated Dunlop bicycle tire, which had been held in place by glue.

mich4Their invention made its public debut in 1891 when the tires were used in the Paris-Brest roundtrip bike race.  The brothers viewed the event as an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of detachable tires, and their sponsored biker Charles Terron delivered on that promise.  At one point, he punctured a tire and lost the lead but still managed to emerge in first place.  When interviewed, he attributed his victory to Michelin’s tires, claiming they were easy to remove and repair.

For a time, Terron served as Michelin’s spokesman but Andre and Edouard sought a unique way of promoting their product. An epiphany struck Edouard at the 1894 Universal and Colonial Exhibition in Lyon, France. The entrance to the Michelin stand was flanked by two piles of tires, the shape of which Edouard noted to be almost humanlike in appearance.

Soon after this chance encounter, the Michelin brothers were approached by the graphic artist O’Galup. The image he presented was a plump likeness of Gambrinus, the legendary icon of beer brewing. Beer in hand, the figure exclaimed “Nunc est bibendum!” (Latin for “Now is the time to drink.”)  The Munich brewery O’Galup originally crafted the design for rejected the idea, but Andre and Edouard were intrigued.

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  •                   January 8, 1921 “Saturday Evening Post” advertisement

With the brothers’ blessings, O’Galop set out to design Michelin’s mascot, finishing the first advertising posters in 1898.  The result was a fusion between O’Galop and Edouard’s ideas; the mascot was comprised of stacked tires and retained the rotund figure of Gambrinus. O’Galop also ran with the alcohol theme, depicting the Michelin Man raising a toast of broken glass and nails, all while withered looking tire people representing competitors looked on helplessly. The Latin phrase remained intact, with the addition of the motto, “the tire that drinks up obstacles.” After going public, the Latin phrase was frequently associated with the character, and Bibendum became his adopted name.

mich5Like his physical appearance, Bibendum’s public persona was larger than life. He was a prominent figure at auto shows and parades, with Michelin employees donning puffy character suits.  By 1927, Michelin was interested in marketing the character beyond the sale of tires, and he began appearing on stationary, maps, and automotive gauges. Candy confectioner Tobler even made a chocolate Bibendum! Michelin ceased manufacturing accessories in 1930 because companies with similar products felt they were facing unfair competition and threatened to boycott Michelin tires.

In addition to his visual presence, Bibendum served as the voice of the company. An example of this was Michelin Instruction Plates, a 24 page tire maintenance and troubleshooting guide published in 1913. Bibendum was listed as the editor and signed the forward, “yours pneumatically.” His figure dominated the cover illustration, in which he was seen providing a demonstration to a massive crowd.

The Bibendum of early advertisements was vastly different from the form we recognizemich7 today. Prominent features included a big belly, human hands, glasses, and a lit cigar. It’s also worth mentioning Bibendum’s appearance was less restricted than it is today. Contracts with several different artists contributed to a diverse range of interpretations of the character. Michelin’s expanse into foreign markets also gave way to regional variations. His image became more standardized when Michelin’s artwork was done in-house by the 1930s.

Bibendum’s looks continued to change with the passage of time. As the tire titan entered the roaring twenties, the width of the rings on his body expanded, and his hands became whiteHis glasses eventually morphed into large round eyes, reminiscent of the then-up-and-coming animated characters like Mickey Mouse.

Bibendum must have also had an intervention because he no longer drank and, with the exception of the occasional relapse, gave up smoking by 1929. In fact, he became more interested in physical fitness. A 1925 poster featured Bibendum running alongside a tire, an image that was to later become a long-standing emblem for the company. This “exercise” paid off, as he is considerably thinner today.

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  •                        The cover for the 1913 Michelin “Instruction Plates”

In a world where trends come and go Bibendum has stood the test of time, having remained an industry superstar for over a century. To learn more about this legendary mascot, be sure to stop by the library or give us a call. We have a collection of early advertisements, more than 35 Michelin brochures and catalogs and the book The Michelin Man: 100 Years of Bibendum, which offers a comprehensive history of the character. We would also be interested in acquiring additional Michelin material to fill in the gaps within our collection. Contact us at the AACA Library.

Editors note: Matthew Kocker Assistant Librarian at the AACA Library wrote this piece on one of our favorite early advertising symbol’s, Bibendum. You can take a look back here on our earlier coverage of him and Michelin Tires here.

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The Globe of Death – Going Round and Round and Up and Down

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  • The Mendoza’s Globe of Fate motorcycle and bicycle act

A little over a week ago we featured a Wall of Death thrill show film. Geoff, a reader from Australia commented on it and told us of the Durkin Brothers Globe of Death show that traveled the Down Under entertainment circuit for over 20 years. In many of these acts as seen above, riders loop vertically as well as horizontally in a globe while traveling at speed on motorcycles.

We decided to investigate a little further and found that in March of 1904, Arthur Rosenthal, a bicycle stuntman of Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a patent application for certain new and useful improvements in bicyclists globes. His patent for a Bicyclist’s Globe was granted quickly on May 3, 1904, and the patent drawing for it can be seen below.

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  • Arthur Rosenthal’s 1904 patent drawing for a Bicyclist’s Globe

From what we were able to piece together from period bicycle magazines and other sources, Rosenthal and his partner, Frank Lemon, performed routines of skill and nerve guaranteed to deliver laughs and roars at fairs, amusement parks, and in shows across the land. The pair soon turned to motorcycles and the act became known as the Globe of Death. 

We found references to many other performers with similar globes and acts starting in the early teens including Guido Consi, an Italian daredevil, who introduced his Sphere of Fear in 1913 during a circus performance in Rome. An German engineer, also built and operated a globe act prior to World War I.

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  • Two early Globe of Death acts can be seen on the left and center above. The Durkin Brothers act of Australia can be seen above right in the mid-1940s

Cedero and his Golden Globe arrived in New York City in 1915, the first of several Brazilian globes and globe riders to travel to the United States. His act was performed at carnivals and circuses here in the U.S. until leaving for a tour of Central and South America in 1940. Between the two World Wars, the popular Globe of Death shows enjoyed the greatest popularity in Brazil.

Below is a more recent 1950s video of a news film clip of a Globe of Death act, filmed at Palisades Park in New Jersey, courtesy of Buyout Footage. This short presentation will show you just how exciting one of these acts can be. The photos above are courtesy of The Globe of Death Chronicles, and The McWhirters Project.

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