12 original brochures, catalogs, and photos to jump-start your automobilia collection
For those of us without the cash or space to build a collection of actual cars and trucks, the next best thing is automobilia. While some of the least expensive and most popular auto-related collectibles are miniature diecast vehicles, ephemera offers a direct, authoritative connection to the vehicles we love.
Delyele “Del” Beyer’s collection started with ephemera—dealership catalogs, manuals, magazines, and the like—when he was a kid growing on a Wisconsin farm in the 1920s and ’30s. When Beyer became a successful businessman, he began buying just about anything related to the auto industry, from bigger items like vehicles, gas pumps, and signs, to more and more literature. Now, nearly five years after Beyer died in September 2017, and almost four years after Vanderbink Auctions sold off his automobiles in September 2018, Beyer’s massive stash of smaller paper-based automobilia is being auctioned by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers.
Online bidding begins on Saturday, April 9, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Before you bid, it is important to note that in addition to the hammer price, there is an 18.5 percent buyer’s premium, a 7 percent tax, and an additional charge of 3 percent for invoices paid by credit card, as well as shipping charges. That’s a lot. It may be worth it, however, for some of the unique items that Beyer collected through the decades.
Among the 641 items on offer are dealership catalogs, paint charts, upholstery samples, manuals, parts catalogs, racing programs, stock certificates, postcards, trading cards, and games. Marques range from well-known names like Ford, Chevrolet, and Cadillac to obscure ones like Hotchkiss, Le Francis, Lloyd, Klein, Paramount, and Russon.
There are also bound books of Motor Magazine from 1906–43, Blue Books from the 1920s and ’30s; Branham Reference Books from 1920–56, Motor Age magazines from the early 1900s, and bound volumes of Automobile Quarterly (including Volume 1/No. 1 from 1962).
Tractor aficionados can bid on items from Oliver, Case, Fordson, Allis-Chalmers, Ferguson, Wallis, Avery, Huber, Frick, Hart-Parr, and, of course, John Deere.
Here are 12 of our favorites (in the order they appear in the online catalog):
Selling on eBay for $150 or more, The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding covers history of coachbuilding and includes an alphabetical list of makes with informative history of each, along with a supplementary list of lesser-known carrozzeria where there is insufficient information for a full entry. First published in 2002, it is considered the Bible of coachbuilding.
One of several original photo lots on offer—including a binder with 40 images—this one is the most historically significant. Among the 25 black-and-white images is one of 1920 Indy 500 champion Aurora Gaston in his Chevrolet #4 Monroe Special. A notation on the photo reads, “The Winner: Fate made a sudden and dramatic entrance into the annual 500-mile race; snatched success from Ralph de Palma and dumped it in Chevrolet’s lap.”
The Chicago Auto Show, the nation’s largest auto show, was first held in 1901. This lot includes three hard-to-find “Salon” souvenir books from the early 1900s: 1918, 1920, 1929. How much fun would it be to pore over these on a rainy day?
The earliest show program in the auction, this one from the 1915 Milwaukee Auto Show features a simplistic but beautiful cover and has a horizontal format, unlike most magazines and programs that are oriented vertically. In addition, it is measures only 6.25 inches by 9.25 inches, which must have made it easier for showgoers to handle while they ogled the cars on display.
This little booklet offers some amusing stories about Henry Ford’s motor car. You’ll find some hidden Ford propaganda in there, too.
For instance: “A farmer living ten miles out in the country went to town to buy a Ford. He wanted to drive the car home immediately, and the agent went along to show him how to handle the car. When the five-mile post was reached, the car came to a dead stop. The agent jumped out, looked over the car, saw that there was plenty of gasoline and oil, then raised the hood and exclaimed, ‘Well, I’ll be blamed if the factory didn’t forget to put a motor in this car.’ ‘Well, how on earth did it run this far?’ ‘Oh,’ the agent replied, ‘A Ford will go half way on its reputation.’”
Real subtle, Henry.
The best of two lots chock-full of Mobil gas truck photographs, this one has so many black-and-white pics that the auctioneer didn’t bother to count them, although there must 50 or more. There are also two matted color images. The fun of this lot must be finding the cool surprises hiding in this collection.
If you like Ford, love Ford trucks, and own a 1966 model, how could you possibly take a pass on this? The shadow box award features a “gold” model of a ’66 pickup and was given to a Ford dealership “in recognition of truck sales leadership.”
Unique because of the subject matter and age, these Superior Cadillac Hearse and Ambulance Brochures (which look to be 1949 models?) are colorful and detailed, and they would make great conversation starters. We were struck by the image of the smiling, dancing girls across the top of the ambulance brochure, which left us scratching our heads and wondering, “What in the world is that about?”
If you’re into Studebakers—and even if you’re not—you’ve gotta love this “Inside Facts” salesman’s manual. Horizontally formatted with tabs for Specs and Index, Beauty, Comfort, Performance, Economy, Safety, Dependability, Transmission, Power Steering, and Accessories, the manual lauds the ’54 Studebakers as “distinctively different.” The same can be said for this spiral-bound beauty.
It would be cool enough to own one sales brochure from the inaugural edition of America’s Sports Car, but how ’bout seven? “With an eye to the future, Chevrolet introduces an experimental model.” Well, that experiment certainly turned out to be a successful one. With a ’53 Corvette valued at $224,000 in #2 (Excellent) condition, this might be the closest that most of us will ever get to owning one … let alone seven.
Less colorful than the Studebaker salesman’s book above, this spiral-bound binder covers everything about Ford’s 1960 model line, from the Falcon and Fairlane to Thunderbird and station wagon. Fascinating, especially if you love Ford.
We just had to include a tractor catalog, and what better one to choose than Hart-Parr? Never heard of it? If you’re a farmer, you have. That’s because Charles Walter Hart and Charles H. Parrnames are widely credited with having designed and built the first successful gasoline-powered tractor, the machine that revolutionized agriculture—giving this vintage catalog a cool connection to both automotive and farming history.
Other treasure catch your eye among the listings? Let us know in the comments below!