BARON MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU, THE NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM, AND THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

PURCHASED WITH COLLECTORS’ COUNCIL FUND, THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ELLEN AND LOUIS WOLFSON III AND MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Just last week, museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. and Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, made a brief pit stop at The Wolfsonian museum to see our exhibitions and to have a private viewing of some of the rare automobile ephemera in our library collection.

The Montagu family has always shown a particular interest in automobiles. The Baron’s father had been a pioneer promoter of motor cars, having introduced the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to motoring in the 1890s. Inheriting his family’s five antique cars and printed motorcar ephemera, Baron Montagu decided in the 1950s to open the collection to public display as the Montagu Motor Museum. Both attendance and the collection grew rapidly in the years that followed to the point where it outgrew its original modest space in the front hall of the family estate in Beaulieu, Hampshire County, England. In 1972, the collection of more than 300 automobiles reopened as the National Motor Museum in a brand new building erected in the parklands about the Montagu ancestral estate.

PURCHASED WITH FIU FACULTY DEVELOPMENT FUNDS

FROM THE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM FOR A LECTURE MADE BY FRANCIS LUCA

GIFT OF THEODORE W. PIETSCH III, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

While the Wolfsonian does not possess any automobiles in its object collection, the rare book and special collections library is an important repository of automotive design history, containing hundreds of rare books, advertisements, brochures, and other promotional ephemera published by the automobile industries of Europe and America.

As one might expect from The Wolfsonian-FIU, some of that commercial propaganda was designed not only to sell the product, but also carried a more sinister political message. Below are some advertisements from Fascist Italy promoting the Balilla (also the name of the Fascist youth movement), and from Nazi Germany where Herr Hitler tried, as part of his Strength Through Joy programs, to sell the Germans on a “Peoples’ car” or Volks-wagon–whose production took a backseat to his more immediate rearmament plans.

The Baron seemed particularly taken by a couple of the mechanical works in our collection—also extremely popular with the hundreds of Miami-Dade school children who come through our doors annually on a book-making project, Page At A Time. One such object was a Shell Company advertisement that folds out accordion-style into a 3D peep show.

Another item of interest was Dyke’s Home Study Course of Automobile Engineering, a kit from 1915 designed to familiarize and demonstrate the working parts of a motor car to the general public. Thanks to the efforts of our Digital Library Specialist, David Almeida, some of working parts of these mechanical works can now be seen operating on Youtube.com.

The library also possesses some photographic studies and unique design sketches and drawings by the talented automobile design artist, Ted Pietsch, II. Pietsch was especially active in the late thirties, forties, and fifties creating innovative designs for hood ornaments, instrument panels, bodies, grills, and bumpers for many of the important automotive industries.

GIFTS OF THEODORE W. PIETSCH III, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

Towards the end of the Second World War and the immediate post-war period, Pietsch also experimented with designs for futuristic vehicles.

GIFTS OF THEODORE W. PIETSCH III, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

Pietsch’s son and namesake donated more than one hundred of these items in a gift facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf. Many of these drawings were exhibited at The Wolfsonian in the show: Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948 and are reproduced in Theodore W. Pietsch II (1912-1993) and the Development of Automobile Design in the Golden Age. The library also put together a modest exhibit at that time titled: Advertising American Automobiles Abroad which can be viewed online thanks to the work of our Digital Library Specialist.

For Baron Montagu’s VIP visit, we pulled and laid out a selection of these materials on the main reading room tables. I hope that my readers have also enjoyed seeing a small sampling of these materials as well.

GIFTS OF THEODORE W. PIETSCH III, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

~ by "The Chief" on November 15, 2012.

2 Responses to “BARON MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU, THE NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM, AND THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY”

  1. Thanks, was a refreshing and didactic blog!

  2. […] work showing the working parts of an automobile engine from 1915, and which is featured in an earlier blog post and Youtube video; a German book with a binding linking the new coal-fired locomotive to a […]

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