March 11, 2020

OLDSMOBILE

P F Olds & Son Engine Works (1896-1897)

Olds Gas & Gasoline Engine Works (1897-1898)

Olds Motor Vehicle Co. (1897-1898)

Olds Motor Works (1898-1942)

Oldsmobile Div., General Motors (1942-2004)

Detroit & Lansing, Michigan


This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1917-1924)     mjs
Size: 65mm high 45mm wide     MM: D L Auld

P F Olds & Son Engine Works in Lansing, Michigan was the Olds family business for manufacturing gasoline engines and became the Olds Gas & Gasoline Engine Works in 1897. Ransom Eli Olds tested his first car, a three-wheel steamer, in 1887. In 1891 he produced another steamer and in 1896 his first gasoline car powered by a single-cylinder 5 hp engine. Ransom E. Olds established the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August 1897. By mid-1898 only about six cars had been produced.

In May 1899, with the financial support of Samuel L Smith, the Olds Motor Works was organized with a significant capital stock, acquiring the earlier Olds businesses, and with a new factory in Detroit. Ransom Olds continued to experiment. From 1899 to 1900 about 11 different automobiles were built, including some electrics, and plans were made to put some on the market in 1901 but a fire destroyed the plant in March 1901. A single gasoline runabout was saved from the fire. It was the soon to be famous curved dash Olds automobile (soon to be called Oldsmobile).

The curved dash was a delightful little car powered by a single-cylinder four-stroke engine developing 7 hp with two-speed transmission and center chain-drive. Curved dash sales were 425 in 1901, 2,500 in 1902, 4,000 in 1903 and 5,500 in 1904. The curved dash Oldsmobile was America's first quantity-produced car. Not only was the car a good one and well priced but the curved dash enjoyed a major promotion campaign and extensive advertising. There was Roy Chaplin's well publicized drive to New York City in 1901, followed by the contest between the single-cylinder racing Olds Pirate against Winton's four-cylinder Bullet 1 in 1902, the cross-country trek of L L Whitman and Eugene Hammond in 1903, and the transcontinental trek of two curved dash automobiles called Old Steady and Old Scout in 1905.

Ransome Olds left the company in January 1904 after a disagreement with Samuel Smith and soon began to manufacture the Reo car (see Reo). The curved dash remained in production through 1907 but several other larger models were introduced by Olds Motor Works.

However, Oldsmobile sales began to fall and by December 1908 William C Durant had bought Olds Motor Works for his General Motors company. A six-cylinder Oldsmobile was introduced in 1908 and a new four-cylinder car in 1909. For 1910 and some years following, Oldsmobiles were luxury cars. Smaller cars followed and production figures began to grow. Oldsmobile production reached 10,507 in 1916 and doubled to 22,613 in 1917. All Oldsmobiles became six-cylinder cars in 1924 and that year Cannon Ball Baker drove a Model 30 six across America in a record time of 12-1/2 days.

By 1928 Oldsmobile production had reached over 86,000 cars. During the year of the stock market crash Oldsmobile sales went over the 100,000 mark. A companion car called the Viking (see Viking) was introduced in 1929 but did not succeed. Oldsmobile suffered a fall in sales during the early years of the Great Depression in the 1930's but the introduction of independent front suspension in 1934 and new models at good prices resulted in an upsurge in sales from nearly 36,000 in 1934 to 212,000 by 1937. In 1940 full hydra-matic automatic transmission arrived and was offered on all Oldsmobile models.

In January 1942 the Olds Motor Works became the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors and shortly after all production went into the World War II effort until peace came.

After World War II Oldsmobile became General Motor's technical leader. In 1949 Oldsmobile introduced its Rocket V-8 and by 1951 six-cylinder models were dropped completely. The Rocket was providing 202 hp in 1955 and 305 hp in 1958. The fastest V-8 in 1961 was the Starfire convertible and a sporting version called the Cutlass followed in 1962. Oldsmobile cars became larger and more powerful. In 1966 the Oldsmobile ranged up to V-8's delivering 383 hp but the real technical breakthrough came with the Toronado coupe. Sales soared in the 1970's and 1980's with the Oldsmobile Cutlass series being America's best-selling car by 1976 and sales reached 1,066,122 in 1985.

But then things changed rapidly for Oldsmobile. By 1990 Oldsmobile lost its place in the market due to competition from imports such Acura, Infiniti and Lexus, and General Motor's decision to shift their performance cars to Chevrolet and Pontiac. The Oldsmobile Aurora was introduced in 1995 and Oldsmobile had a new logo in 1996 but sales continued to fall and Oldsmobile was finished by April 2004.

Oldsmobile had also produced commercial vehicles at intervals over the years, starting from 1904 with delivery van versions of the curved dash runabout. A few 1-1/2-ton trucks and 18-seat buses were also built up to 1907. In 1919 Oldsmobile built a 3/4-ton commercial chassis for trucks and buses. Commercial vehicle production ceased by 1924 but began again in 1936 for export only. From 1949 Oldsmobile produced a number of commercial vehicles, including ambulances, hearses, vans and airport limousines.

Emblems

The first Olds motor cars built by the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897 and 1898 did not carry an emblem but probably displayed the Olds name on a small nameplate attached to the back of the vehicle. The Olds name would also be displayed on serial plates attached to the engines made by the Olds Gas & Gasoline Engine Works, probably similar to the example below:

This is an Olds gasoline engine serial plate (c1898)      mjs
Size: 88mm wide 38mm high

Olds cars built by the Olds Motor Works also did not carry an emblem but did display the Olds name on small nameplates attached to the back of the vehicle similar to the nameplates carried by horse-drawn carriages at that time, see example below:

This is an early Olds Motor Works nameplate (1898-c1904)     mjs
Size: 83mm wide 20mm high

The first Olds motor vehicle to carry an emblem was the Oldsmobile curved dash, which had a vertical oval, red painted wooden panel on the sides of the vehicle with a colored decal showing the familiar Oldsmobile logo, see original photo and emblem shown below:

This is a curved dash Oldsmobile showing the decal side emblem (1901)    ms

This is an original Olds side decal emblem (1901-1907)     mjs
Size: 130mm high 96mm wide overall 

The vertical oval, painted decal emblem shown above was used on the curved dash Oldsmobile from 1901 to 1907 and also on the straight dash Oldsmobile from 1906 to 1907. Original Oldsmobile side decals are extremely rare.

The first single-cylinder "French Front" Oldsmobile models in 1904 and 1905, and the two-cylinder Model L from 1905 to 1906,  displayed horizontal oval, black painted side panels with the same Oldsmobile logo decal, see below:

This is an Oldsmobile Model T showing the side decal emblem (1904)    ms

This is an original Olds Model N side decal emblem (1905)       ms

The first Oldsmobile radiator emblem was used on single-cylinder "French Front" Oldsmobile models in 1904 and 1905,  and was one of the earliest radiator emblems in America. The radiator emblem was a brass profile representation of a curved dash model, soldered onto the front of the radiator tank top, see original photo and example below:

This is an Olds Model T with a radiator emblem (1904)     hcg

Close-up showing radiator emblem (1904)      hcg

This is an Oldsmobile Model N radiator emblem (1904)     conceptcarz
Size: Unknown

Oldsmobile began to display brass "Oldsmobile" scripts attached to the radiator core on some cars, but not all, from about 1906, see original photos below. Original "Oldsmobile" radiator scripts are very rare.

Oldsmobile car showing radiator script on Glidden Tour (1906)     dpl

This is an Oldsmobile displaying a radiator script Vanderbilt Cup Races (1906)     dpl 

Close-up showing radiator script (1906)     dpl

From 1907 to 1909, some Oldsmobile four-cylinder and six-cylinder cars displayed the "Oldsmobile" name embossed into the radiator tank top, see unclear original photo shown below:

This is an Olds showing embossed rad script emblem Chicago Reliability Run (1907)   dpl

Close-up showing (unclear) embossed rad script emblem (1907)      dpl

The embossed radiator script emblem cannot be clearly seen from original photos but is believed to be similar to the style of the "Oldsmobile" name in the Oldsmobile patent plate shown below: 

Oldsmobile patent plate showing script (c1905)    silverstone auctions

A new circular brass, ring-shaped, Oldsmobile radiator emblem was used from 1909 to 1910, see example below seen on a 1910 Oldsmobile Limited touring model. Original examples of this Oldsmobile radiator emblem are extremely rare.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1909-1910)      nam
Size: 51mm outer diameter     MM: Unknown

The prototype Oldsmobile Limited (1908-1909) and some early production models in 1909-1910 displayed a large brass "Olds Limited" radiator script, see surviving prototype below. Original "Olds Limited" radiator scripts are possibly ultra rare.

This is an Olds Limited prototype showing rad script (1908)   wheelsage

Later Oldsmobile Limited models produced in 1910-1912 displayed a large brass "Oldsmobile Limited" radiator script, see example below. Original "Oldsmobile Limited" radiator scripts are extremely rare.

This is an "Oldsmobile Limited" radiator script (1910)     nam

The Standard Catalog of American Cars notes that this script came from the following Oldsmobile catalog statement: "While the output has been increased , such a car cannot be produced rapidly, therefore a limited quantity can be built".

There were similarly designed brass radiator scripts for the Oldsmobile Autocrat, Special and Defender models in the period 1910-1912. Original photos showing these radiator scripts are difficult to find but these scripts are seen on some surviving models, see examples below. Genuine original radiator scripts for these models would be extremely rare.

This is an Oldsmobile Autocrat radiator script (1910-1912)      GmanViz

This is a repro Oldsmobile Special radiator script (1910-1911)       mjs
Size: 335mm wide 215mm high

This is an Oldsmobile Defender radiator script (1912)     natm

The Oldsmobile radiator emblem was changed in 1910 to an enamel emblem similar in design to the early Oldsmobile logo decal. The first form of this new radiator emblem has a red sunburst enamel center with "Oldsmobile" in black enamel in a white enamel banner, see example below. This Oldsmobile radiator emblem was used on some Oldsmobile Limited models and is very rare.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1910-1913)      sac
Size: Unknown     MM: Unknown

The following Oldsmobile emblem is similar but not the same as the emblem shown above and it is much smaller. If you know where and when this emblem was used, please let me know, in order to update this post.

This is a small Oldsmobile emblem (c1910-1911)      kmc
Size: 44mm high 32mm wide      MM: Unknown

The following variation with a white enamel border to the red sunburst center appeared later in 1910, see example below. This Oldsmobile radiator emblem is very rare.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1910-1913)      ms
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The following is a Canadian version of this Oldsmobile radiator emblem but this emblem was used at a later date, as Oldsmobile Canadian production began in 1920. 

This is a Canadian Oldsmobile radiator emblem (c1920)      kmc
Size: Unknown 
   MM: Unknown

A variation of the Oldsmobile radiator emblem with a very narrow red enamel border around the red enamel sunburst center was used 1914 to 1916, see examples shown below. This Oldsmobile radiator emblem is very rare.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1914-1916)      artebellum

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1914-1916)      kmc
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The Oldsmobile radiator emblem was changed again from 1917 to 1924. The new emblem had a wider red enamel border around the red enamel sunburst center and "U.S.A." appears on the emblem for the first time, see examples below, which show differences in detail around the edges due to the use of different emblem makers. Versions of this Oldsmobile radiator emblem using fixing studs have a Childs' maker's mark, while (probably later) versions using a cup washer are marked D. L. Auld on the cup.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1917-1924)       kmc
Size: 64mm high 45mm wide      MM: Childs

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1917-1924)      mjs
Size: 64mm high 45mm wide     MM: D L Auld

There was also a Canadian version of this Oldsmobile radiator emblem from 1920, see example below:

This is an Oldsmobile Canada radiator emblem (1920-1924)      mjs
Size: 65mm high 45mm wide     MM: Unknown (poss D L Auld)

The following is a very small version of the Oldsmobile radiator emblem:

This is a small Oldsmobile emblem (dates unknown)      mjs
Size: 40mm high 29mm wide    MM: Unknown

This photo compares the emblem sizes

I do not know, if this small Oldsmobile emblem was used on an Oldsmobile vehicle or was used for promotional purposes. If you have any information regarding the use of this small Oldsmobile emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post.

The following version with a blue enamel outer border is believed to be an original emblem but it appears to have had restoration to the enamel, so there remains some doubt about the original color. If this is indeed an original Oldsmobile emblem, it would be extremely rare.

This appears to be an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (c1917-1924)      mjs
Size: 65mm high 45mm wide     MM: Unknown

The Oldsmobile radiator emblem was changed to blue and white enamel for the new radiator design introduced in 1925, see example below. The Oldsmobile radiator emblem shown below was used for a short period only and is very rare.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1925)      dnc
Size: 57mm high 42mm wide     MM: Unknown

The following Oldsmobile radiator emblem, with a blue and white enamel center and a sunburst pattern in the body of the emblem, replaced the emblem shown above in early 1925. There is also a Canadian version of this Oldsmobile radiator emblem.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1925-1927)       mjs
Size: 57mm high 40mm wide    MM: Unknown (poss D L Auld)

The following black circular Oldsmobile emblem was fitted to the dash instrument panel where these are left blank:

This is an Oldsmobile instrument panel emblem (1925-1927)      dnc
Size: 54mm diameter overall     MM: Unknown

The Oldsmobile radiator emblem was changed to a simple horizontal oval, metal emblem for 1928. This emblem is sometimes painted black, see example below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1928)     mjs
Size: 66mmwide 42mm high    MM: Unknown

Oldsmobile commissioned a more elaborate ‘winged spur’ trademark, which first appeared for the 1929 model year, see the red, gold and black enamel radiator emblem shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1929-1930)       mjs
Size: 47mm diameter   MM: Unknown (some Fox)

Oldsmobile explained the symbolism of the new logo as follows:

The winged spur at center represents speed and the harnessing of horsepower, the three acorns below signify the historical position of the company as a pioneer of the mass production methods which enabled  growth of the industry, the combination of the Lamp of Knowledge, micrometer and triangle reference engineering research and precision, and the background of oak leaves signify strength and durability.

There is also an ultra rare "blue" version of the "red" Oldsmobile radiator emblem shown above, see example and comparison photos below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (c1929)       mjs
Size: 47mm diameter    MM: D L Auld

There are differences in detail between the two emblems, as can be seen in the photo below. The "blue" emblem is clearly a different emblem and may have been a prototype Oldsmobile radiator emblem rejected in favor of the "red" version.

This compares the two Oldsmobile radiator emblems (c1929)     mjs

A new red and black enamel Oldsmobile radiator emblem appeared in 1931, see example below. This Oldsmobile emblem was also used on the spare wheel cover.

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1931-1932)      mjs
Size: 36mm high 30mm wide    MM: Fox

The following is a black painted Oldsmobile headlight bar emblem used in 1931. This Oldsmobile emblem is scarce.

This is an Oldsmobile headlight bar emblem (1931)     dnc
Size: 130mm wide 33mm high    MM: Unknown (some Fox)

The Oldsmobile headlight bar emblem was changed in 1932-1934 to the simpler black enamel version shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile headlight bar emblem (1932-1934)      mjs
Size: 128mm wide 34mm high      MM: None (some Fox)

The following is a slightly smaller red enamel version of this headlight bar emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile headlight emblem (1932-1934)      mjs
Size: 125mm wide 30mm high      MM: Fox

The following two-piece, black enamel Oldsmobile emblem was used on eight-cylinder models on the headlight bar in 1932 and on the tail light bracket from 1932 to 1934:

This is an Oldsmobile headlight bar (1932) and tail light bracket emblem (1932-34)     mjs
Size: 128mm wide 47mm high overall     MM: Fox

The Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem was changed for 1933 to a black and red enamel emblem depicting a simplified form of the Oldsmobile logo, see example below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1933)       mjs
Size: 80mm high 43mm wide     MM: None

The following variation has black enamel chevrons at the bottom of the emblem. This Oldsmobile radiator emblem is scarce.


This is an Oldsmobile radiator emblem (1933)      kmc
Size: 80mm high 43mm wide     MM: Unknown

The following red and black painted Oldsmobile emblem was used as the 1933 luggage rack emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile luggage rack emblem (1933)      mjs
Size: 185mm high 75mm wide      MM: None

The following is a 1933 Oldsmobile horn button emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile horn button emblem (1933)       sites.google

The Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem was changed again for 1934 to an even more simplified red and black enamel logo design, see example in the photo below:

This is an Oldsmobile grille emblem (1934)       classiccars
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The following red and black painted Oldsmobile emblem was used as the 1934 spare wheel cover emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile spare wheel cover emblem (1934)      mjs
Size: 153mm wide 54mm high    MM: None

The following red and black painted Oldsmobile emblem was used as the 1934 luggage rack emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile luggage rack emblem (1934)      ms
Size: Unknown     MM: Unknown

The Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem was changed again for 1935 to the red and black enamel emblem shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem (1935)      mjs
Size: 140mm wide 46mm high    MM: Fox

The following Oldsmobile trunk emblem is finished in unusual colors rather than black and red, as for the corresponding grille emblem:

This is an Oldsmobile trunk emblem (1935)       mjs
Size: 280mm wide 64mm high    MM: Unknown

The Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem was changed for 1936 to the red and black enamel emblem shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem (1936)     mjs
Size: 63mm high 29mm wide     MM: Fox

The following red and black painted Oldsmobile emblem was used as the trunk lid emblem for 1936:

This is an Oldsmobile trunk lid emblem (1936)      mjs
Size: 240mm wide 100mm high    MM: None

The following are some of the internal Oldsmobile emblems for 1936:

This is an Oldsmobile horn button emblem (1936)      sites.google

This is an Oldsmobile clock cover emblem (1936)      sites.google

For 1937, Oldsmobile had different emblem arrangements for their six-cylinder and eight-cylinder models, see examples shown below.

The following images show the red and black painted radiator grille emblems carried by a 1937 Oldsmobile six-cylinder model:

This is a six-cylinder Oldsmobile (1937)      ms

Close-up showing the six-cylinder Oldsmobile radiator grille emblems (1937)   

This is the Oldsmobile lower radiator grille emblem (1937)   bringatrailer

The following images show the red and black painted radiator grille emblems carried by a 1937 eight-cylinder Oldsmobile model:

This is an eight-cylinder Oldsmobile (1937)       car-from-uk

This is an eight-cylinder Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem (1937)     conceptcarz

This is an eight-cylinder Oldsmobile bumper emblem (1937-1938)     conceptcarz

There were no trunk emblems for the US built Oldsmobile in 1937 and 1938. However, Holden, the GM subsidiary in Australia, did design Oldsmobile trunk emblems for these years and a number of Oldsmobile cars carrying these trunk emblems have found their way to Europe and America. 

The following Oldsmobile trunk emblem is very rare and is believed to have been fitted to the few eight-cylinder Oldsmobile cars assembled in Australia for 1937:

This is a Holden built Oldsmobile trunk emblem (1937)     dnc
Size: 252mm wide 63mm high    MM: None

The Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem was changed again for 1938. The red and black painted, die cast Oldsmobile grill emblem for six-cylinder Oldsmobile models is shown below:

This is a six-cylinder Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem (1938)      ms

This is an Oldsmobile grille emblem (1938)    ms
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The following pressed metal, painted Oldsmobile trunk emblem was fitted to Oldsmobile cars assembled in Australia for 1938 and is scarce:

This is a Holden built Oldsmobile trunk emblem (1938)   dnc
Size: 155mm high 77mm wide    MM: None

The red painted radiator grille emblem shown below was used for eight-cylinder Oldsmobile models  in 1938:

This is an eight-cylinder Oldsmobile grille emblem (1938)    ms
Size: Unknown     MM: Unknown

The red and black painted Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem for the six-cylinder Model 70 was changed again for 1939, as shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile Model 70 showing the radiator grille emblem (1939)  classicautomall

Close-up showing the radiator grille emblem (1939)

This is an Oldsmobile Model 70 hood side script (1939)   classicautomall

The following is a red painted die cast Oldsmobile trunk emblem for 1939:

This is an Oldsmobile trunk emblem (1939)      flickr

The red and black painted Oldsmobile hood emblem was changed again for 1940, see examples below:

This is an Oldsmobile Series 90 showing the hood emblem and grille script (1940)  connorsmotorcar

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1940)   hemmings

The following "OLDS" script was attached to the front right side of the radiator grille in 1940:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator grille script (1940)       mjs
Size: 144mm wide 38mm high

The red and black painted Oldsmobile radiator grille emblems were changed again for 1941, see example below:

This is an Oldsmobile radiator grille (1941)      rich franco

Close-up showing the Oldsmobile radiator grille emblem (1941)

Oldsmobile eight-cylinder models for 1941 displayed a small red painted "VIII" emblem on the radiator grille, see detail below:

This detail shows the location of the "VIII" grille emblem (1941)    ms

The following photo shows the Oldsmobile Eight Hydra-matic trunk emblem and script:

This shows the Oldsmobile Eight trunk emblem and script (1941)      marc vorgers

For 1942, Oldsmobile put their red and black painted emblem back on the hood, see below:


This is an Oldsmobile B44 Sixty club sedan showing the hood emblem (1942) hiveminer

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1942)     mjs
Size: 215mm wide 104mm high   MM: Made in USA

The following is an Oldsmobile B44 grille emblem for 1942:

This is an Oldsmobile B44 grille emblem (1942)     flickriver

The following is an Oldsmobile trunk emblem used on standard transmission models for 1942:

This is an Oldsmobile standard transmission trunk emblem (1942)     hiveminer

The following is an Oldsmobile trunk emblem for Hydramatic transmission models for 1942:

This is an Oldsmobile Hydramatic transmission trunk emblem (1942)     mecum

The following is an Oldsmobile Hydramatic hood side emblem for 1942:

This is an Oldsmobile Hydramatic hood side emblem (1942)    hiveminer

There were no Oldsmobile models after 1942 until post war production began in 1946.

The Oldsmobile for 1946 and 1947 showed a simple shield-shaped, red and black painted hood emblem, see examples below:

This is an Oldsmobile ninety-eight showing the hood emblem (1946)  streetsideclassics

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1947)     hemmings

The following emblem is the red and black painted Oldsmobile hood emblem for 1946 and 1947:

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1946-1947)       mjs
Size: 167mm high 62mm wide     MM: None

The Oldsmobile hood emblem became a red, orange and black painted, round-shaped emblem for 1948, see examples below:

This is an Oldsmobile sixty-eight showing the hood emblem (1948)    connorsmotorcar

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1948)      mjs
Size: 90mm diameter   MM: None

There was a complete change in the design of the Oldsmobile hood emblem from 1949, see examples below:

This is an Oldsmobile ninety-eight showing the hood emblem (1949)    allcollectorcars

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1949)      mjs
Size: 297mm wide 110mm high    MM: None

The new Oldsmobile world globe design continued for the next couple of years with progressive changes to the detailed design. The 1950 Oldsmobile hood emblem is shown below:

This is an Oldsmobile hood emblem (1950)       mjs
Size: 315mm wide 139mm high   MM: None

The following shows a similar Oldsmobile 88 trunk emblem and "88" rear emblem:

This shows the Oldsmobile trunk emblem and "88" rear emblem (1950)   haggerty


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