May 13, 2021

MAXWELL

Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Co.

Tarrytown, New York (1904-1913)

Pawtucket, Rhode Island (1905-1913)

New Castle, Indiana (1906-1913)

Auburn, New York (1908-1913)

Cranston, Rhode Island (1909-1913)

Maxwell Motor Co. (1913-1921)

Maxwell Motor Corp. (1922-1925)

Detroit, Michigan 


This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (dates uncertain, possibly 1914)    mjs
Size: 70mm high 55mm wide     MM: Whitehead & Hoag

Benjamin Briscoe had started to finance Buick but gave that up in 1903 and then he decided to support Jonathan D. Maxwell and the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company was established. The Maxwell was a splendid little car with a two-cylinder water-cooled engine and it sold well from the start with the first ten cars being produced in 1904. A four-cylinder model joined the line in 1906 and twins and fours were produced through to 1913. New manufacturing facilities were set up in several locations, as Maxwell sales continued to grow. Delivery vans were made from 1905 to 1912 using the 20hp passenger car chassis and a taxicab was offered in 1908.

Cadwallader Washburn Kelsey became sales manager and put the Maxwell through a number of successful publicity stunts, including being driven up the steps of buildings. Maxwell cars did well in racing events in 1908 and in 1909 a group of ladies drove a Maxwell from New York to San Francisco to great acclaim. In 1910 about 20,500 Maxwell cars were sold. But in 1910, Benjamin Briscoe launched his United States Motor Company, combining Maxwell-Briscoe and Columbia. Kelsey thought Briscoe was mad and left to produce a car of his own.

U. S. Motors collapsed in 1912 and Benjamin Briscoe went off to try again with a car called the Briscoe and Jonathan Maxwell picked up the pieces of Maxwell-Briscoe, reorganized as the Maxwell Motor Company and moved to Detroit. There Maxwell produced four-cylinder cars in a range of horsepower sizes and body styles. Six-cylinder models were built for the 1913 and 1914 model years only. Sales were going well and in 1917 the 100,000th Maxwell was built. Commercial vehicle production began again in 1917 with a conventional 1-ton truck and a delivery van appeared in 1918. Trucks, vans, fire engines and bus bodies were produced up to 1925.

But problems had struck in 1920 when the postwar recession hit the Maxwell. Dealers found themselves with too many unsold passenger cars. There were also technical problems with the Maxwell Model 25 in 1921. Walter P. Chrysler was invited to help turn round the company in late 1921. The company was reorganised as Maxwell Motor Corporation with Walter Chrysler as chairman. Chrysler put right the technical faults in the Maxwell and introduced an improved Maxwell Model 25 in 1922 as the "Good Maxwell". However, Chrysler intoduced his own car in 1924 and Maxwell production ceased in 1925.

Emblems

The first Maxwell cars in 1904 and 1905 displayed a distinctive brass bar across the front of the radiator but did not carry an emblem or radiator script, see example shown in the original photo below:

This is a Maxwell (1905)    dpl

The small rectangular plate on the top of the radiator is not a Maxwell radiator emblem but is a radiator manufacturer's nameplate for the Briscoe Manufacturing Company, see examples shown below, both of which appear on Maxwell car radiators:

This is a Briscoe radiator maker's nameplate    ms

This is a Briscoe radiator maker's nameplate      ms

Early Maxwell cars may also have carried small Maxwell serial plates or simple nameplates similar to the plate shown below:

This is a Maxwell-Briscoe nameplate (c1906)    mjs
Size: 88mm wide 18mm high

By 1906, brass "Maxwell" scripts began to appear on some Maxwell radiators, see example below:


This is a Maxwell with a radiator script (1906)     dpl

Maxwell radiator scripts in various designs and sizes appeared on Maxwell cars for many years but not all Maxwell cars did carry a radiator script. The following photo shows an example of an alternative Maxwell radiator script.

This is a Maxwell radiator script (c1910)    mjs
Size: 195mm wide

The Maxwell name was also displayed on the sill plates and hub caps, see examples shown below:

This is a Maxwell sill plate (c1908)     ms

This is a maxwell hub cap (1908)     ms

By about 1910, some Maxwell models displayed the "Maxwell" name embossed into the top of the brass radiator, see example below:

This is an embossed Maxwell radiator emblem (1910)    ms

The following original photo from the 1911 Glidden Tour shows Maxwell cars with the "Maxwell" name in large letters across the top of the radiator. I have not seen this Maxwell emblem elsewhere and suspect that this emblem may have been specially made for publicity purposes at this event.

Maxwell cars with the "Maxwell" name on the top of the radiator (1911)    dpl

The following brass emblem showing the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company monogram is perhaps the first real Maxwell emblem. It has been suggested that this small brass monogram may have been displayed inside the first Maxwell-Briscoe cars in 1904-1905 but I cannot confirm this. If you can provide further information about this emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post. This Maxwell emblem is very rare.

This is a Maxwell-Briscoe monogram emblem (dates unknown)     mjs
Size: 52mm high 50mm wide

The first enamel radiator emblems appeared on some special four-cylinder Maxwell models made for the 1912 model year and may have appeared in late 1911. Interestingly, there were many advertisements for the new 1912 Maxwell models but the illustrations of the cars do not show an emblem, see example below:

This is a Maxwell advertisemet for the 1912 Maxwell Special (Aug 1911)    sep

Close up showing no radiator emblem for the 1912 Maxwell Special   sep

This indicates that the decision to have a radiator emblem for the 1912 Maxwell Special had not been made by August 1911, even though the first 1912 model year cars were produced in late 1911.

The following doubly curved, blue and white enamel Maxwell radiator emblem is believed to have been made for the 1912 Maxwell Special. I have not seen this emblem on a Maxwell car and it may have been a prototype emblem. The emblem may not have been used or possibly used only briefly in late 1911. This Maxwell Special radiator emblem is extremely rare. But, beware, there are reproduction Maxwell emblems with this design.

This appears to be a Maxwell Special radiator emblem (poss late 1911) mjs
Size: 62mm high 59mm wide   MM: None

The following red, white and blue enamel Maxwell Special radiator emblem was certainly used for the 1912 Maxwell Special model and is also extremely rare:

This is a Maxwell Special radiator emblem (possibly late 1911-1912)     mjs
Size: 60mm high 57mmwide    MM: None

The following red, white and blue enamel Maxwell Mascotte radiator emblem was used for the 1912 Maxwell Mascotte model and is extremely rare:

This is a Maxwell Mascotte radiator emblem (possibly late 1911-1912)    mjs
Size: 60mm high 57mm wide    MM: None

I do not know, if there were similar radiator emblems for the Maxwell Messenger and Maxwell Mercury models also made for the 1912 model year. If you have details of any such Maxwell radiator emblems, please let me know, in order to update this post.

The following red, white and blue enamel Maxwell 40 radiator emblem was used on the 1913 Maxwell Model 40 and is extremely rare:

This is a Maxwell Model 40 radiator emblem (1913)     mjs
Size: 60mm high 57mm wide     MM: None

I do not know, if there were similar radiator emblems for the Maxwell Model 22 and Model 30 also made for the 1913 model year. I have found no evidence that these emblems exist. If original versions of these emblems could be found, they would be extremely rare.

However, beware, as Nostalgia Reflections have made reproduction radiator emblems for these and other Maxwell emblems, see examples below:

These are reproduction Maxwell radiator emblems    nostalgic reflections

There is very little reliable evidence of the use of emblems on early Maxwell cars. There are very few original photos clearly showing emblems and surviving cars have often had incorrect emblems fitted some time after the date of production of the vehicle.

Based on available evidence, it seems most likely that the 1913 model year Maxwell Model 22 and the 1914 model year Maxwell Model 25-4, which would have first appeared in late 1913, did not carry a radiator emblem but would have only displayed a "Maxwell" radiator script, see example below:

This is a Maxwell Model 25-4 showing a radiator script (late 1913)    volo cars 

A new Maxwell radiator emblem design appeared on the Maxwell car sales brochure for 1913, see below:

Maxwell brochure showing rad emblem (1913) ms

Again, based on the limited evidence available, it appears that the following blue, red and black enamel Maxwell radiator emblem, with a design closely similar to the 1913 Maxwell brochure, may have been used on the 1913 Maxwell Model 30 and possibly also on the 1913 Maxwell six-cylinder models. This Maxwell emblem also appears on a surviving 1914 Maxwell Model 35-4 but it is not certain that this emblem was originally fitted to the car. This Maxwell radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (dates uncertain, possibly 1913-1914)  mjs
Size: 70mm high 55mm wide     MM: Whitehead & Hoag

The following Maxwell advertisement for the 1914 model year again shows the new radiator emblem:

This a Maxwell ad showing a new radiator emblem (1914)   ms

However, there was a change in detailed design to the red, blue, white and black enamel Maxwell radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Maxwell radiator emblem was used as the Maxwell registered trade mark and appeared on Maxwell advertisements for several years. 

This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (dates uncertain, possibly 1914)     mjs
Size: 70mm high 55mm wide    MM: Whitehead & Hoag

This Maxwell radiator emblem is not seen on reliable photos of early Maxwell cars. The emblem is a candidate as the radiator emblem for the 1914 Maxwell Model 35-4 but I cannot confirm this. 

The examples of this emblem that I have seen have always been in original unused condition. It is possible that this Maxwell radiator emblem was produced at the time the design became the Maxwell logo in 1914 but was not used on a car. This Maxwell radiator emblem is, nevertheless, very rare.

The six-cylinder Maxwell Model 50-6 included in the 1914 Maxwell advertisement shown earlier above, carried a special red, white and blue enamel radiator emblem, see example below. This Maxwell Fifty-Six radiator emblem probably appeared in late 1913 and is extremely rare. 

This is a Maxwell Fifty-Six radiator emblem (late 1913-1914)    sam
Size: 52mm high 42mm wide MM: Unknown (poss Whitehead & Hoag)

The period 1915-1919 was a time of serious cost cutting for the Maxwell as it tried, unsuccessfully, to compete with the Ford Model T and most Maxwell vehicles in this period displayed a simple "Maxwell" script on the radiator with no radiator emblem. The Maxwell radiator script was usually an iron script, see example below, and mostly painted black.

This is a Maxwell radiator script (c1915-1919)     dnc
Size: 196mm wide

There was an exception, however. The following original photo taken in November 1916 shows a 1917 model year Maxwell 25 with a radiator emblem at the top of the curved radiator:

This is a 1917 Maxwell 25 showing a radiator emblem (late 1916)    vwvortex 

The emblem is also shown in a 1918 Maxwell sales brochure, see below:

This is from a Maxwell sales brochure shows a radiator emblem (1918)   autopaper

This Maxwell radiator emblem is found on a few surviving Maxwell 25 cars from that period and appears to be a colored decal emblem, which is extremely rare, see examples below:

This is a Maxwell touring decal radiator emblem (1917)    schwm
Size: Unknown    MM: None

This is a Maxwell Model 25 tourer showing a decal radiator emblem (1917)   bonhams

Close up showing the decal radiator emblem (1917)    bonhams

The following, originally black painted, pressed metal Maxwell radiator emblem appears to have been used for the 1920 model year Maxwell Model 25. The same emblem was also used on Maxwell commercial vehicles up to about 1922.


This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (late 1919-1922)    mjs
Size:55mm wide 52mm high   MM: Unknown (some D L Auld)

The following unusual cast aluminum version of this Maxwell radiator emblem was likely to have been painted black originally. This Maxwell radiator emblem is rare.

This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (c1919-1920)     dnc
Size:55mm wide 52mm high    MM: None

The following blue and white enamel Maxwell Model 25 radiator emblem was used in the 1921 model year only and is rare. The emblem may have first appeared in late 1920.

This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (late 1920-1921)     mjs
Size: 58mm high 42mm wide    MM: D L Auld

The following Maxwell advertisement appeared in November 1921 and introduced the revamped Maxwell Model 25 for the 1922 model year with a new radiator emblem:

This is an ad for the new Model 25 showing the radiator emblem (Nov 1921)   ms

The blue and white enamel Maxwell radiator emblem shown below was used on the new Model 25 and Maxwell commercials until the end of Maxwell production and is relatively easy to find.

This is a Maxwell radiator emblem (1922-1925)     mjs
Size: 50mm wide 50mmm high    MM: Fox



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