Since the Ford Motor Company was founded on this date by Henry Ford in 1903, I thought that today’s blog might showcase some of the great promotional materials for automobiles to be found in our collection. The Wolfsonian-FIU Library is renowned for its impressive collections of rare travel, transportation, and mass transit materials—and most especially for items relating to trains, planes, and ocean liners.

Our collection, however, was conspicuously less comprehensive in documenting perhaps the most ubiquitous private transit vehicle of the twentieth century—the automobile. Although our holdings included some early fine print advertisements for the Locomobile designed by Thomas Cleland, we had relatively few promotional brochures for other automobiles.

We first consciously began to fill in that gap in 2004 with the acquisition of a small number of pristine automobile promotional brochures from the 1930s and 1940s.

But it was only when the museum hosted the exhibition Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908-1948 that the excitement generated by the show helped put the Wolfsonian on the map as an important source for automotive design. Long-time Wolfsonian friends and supporters Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf donated a number of important works on paper to the museum in the wake of the exhibition. The Sharfs also facilitated the donation of more than thirty original sketchbooks and nearly one hundred more original drawings by automotive designer Theodore Pietsch II to our rare books and special collections library. Our committed crew of library interns and volunteers have helped us create bibliographic records in for all of these items available through our online catalog ( We have also created direct links to digitized images of the same, courtesy of our Digital Library Specialist David Almeida, and brand new photographic scanning equipment made possible by a generous technology grant from Florida International University.

Once again, our thanks go out to Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Ted Pietsch III, and the university, for their continued support in helping make our institution an important repository for automotive design.

~ by "The Chief" on June 16, 2010.


  1. Great sketches!

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