Counting Cars: New acquisitions to the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library

For several years now, one of our long-time supporters, Frederic A. Sharf has been donating large swaths of his private library to The Wolfsonian-FIU rare book and special collections library. Fred’s generosity has greatly enriched our holdings of rare propaganda books and photograph albums documenting: the conflicts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the rise of the Japanese Empire; and colonial expeditions and projects the world over. Mr. Sharf’s most recent donations to the museum have included airplane, truck, and automobile models, as well as rare books and substantial runs of illustrated automotive magazines. Today’s post dealing with one of those rare periodicals comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Here is her report:

In New York over half a century ago, my father’s father owned a gas station in Queens while my mother’s father worked as a mechanic in Brooklyn. These professional parallels between my grandfathers were random, as it relates to my parents’ romance. But that is a story for another day.

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The author’s beloved father as a young man in Queens, NY.

The common denominator for Grandpa Morris and Grandpa Angelo, of course, was the car. In the West after World War II, cars symbolized technological triumph, economic progress, and freedom. Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf recently donated more than one hundred issues of The Autocar from this period to the Wolfsonian-FIU Library. The British magazine, first published in 1895 (making it the oldest automobile periodical on record) and still available today, includes in-depth pieces on car companies, reviews of new models, and mechanical insights.

This cover from September 10, 1954 lauds the benefits of buying a Ford. Part of the “Big Three” American car manufacturers in the 1950s, Ford was only second to Chevrolet in automobile sales. Note the wheel in the illustration is on the right, for English drivers.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Nine years earlier (and five months after D-Day), the caption on this cover waxes hopeful and poetic over the upcoming Christmas holidays for the Ford owner. The illustration is unusual in that it shows what the lucky driver would see through the windshield, rather than promoting the car itself.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

The back cover of the same issue is devoted to an advertisement expressing cautious optimism about beginning post-war business.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

The juxtaposition of the quintessential British beagling and the American Ford parked nearby displays a picturesque post war amity in which the commercial manufacturer can barely keep up with customer demand.

thehunt2

The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

A 1950 ad on the back cover of The Autocar proves that America needs British automobile equipment, too.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

In 1945, car (and car magazine) purchasers were predominately male. The Nuffield Organization, the British umbrella company for both Morris and Austin cars, emphasizes this point by featuring what might visually represent a potential buyer’s wife and daughters (and beloved pup).

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

In another cover illustration, the gentlemanly Morris owner impresses an attractive woman with his spending savvy.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Price was (and remains) an important consideration for car-buyers. What would this beauty cost today?

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

In 1954, Lockhead encouraged the consumer to imagine what a car would be like a century into the future. This 2054 model “becomes airborne with the flick of a finger.”

caroffuture2

The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Only thirty-seven more years to go.

~ by "The Chief" on February 17, 2017.

2 Responses to “Counting Cars: New acquisitions to the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library”

  1. CORRECTION: THE HUNTING SCENE IS NOT OF FOX-HUNTING, IT IS BEAGLING. THE HUNTERS FOLLOW THE BEAGLES ON FOOT AS THEY CHASE AFTER RABBITS.

    • Thank you Nina! I humbly admit to you that I’ve never participated in either. I will happily make the change.

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