April 21, 2020

EMPIRE

Empire Motor Car Co. (1909-1911)

Indianapolis, Indiana

Empire Automobile Co.

Greenville, Pennsylvania (1912-1914)

Indianapolis, Indiana (1915-1919)


This is an Empire radiator emblem (c1915-1918)      mjs
Size: 64mm high 64mm wide     MM: Unknown (possibly None)

The Empire was an excellent 20hp four-cylinder chain driven car, which was advertised as "The Little Aristocrat". The first Empire cars were built in 1909 but production was delayed, because the founders of the Empire were diverted from their motor car business by their decision to build a race track in Indianapolis. The first Empire built was also the first motor car to try out the newly built Indy Speedway in December 1909 but the car remained unchanged until 1911 when Harry C. Stutz was hired as design consutant and converted the Empire to shaft drive.

Late in 1911 the Empire Motor Car Company was sold and reorganized as the Empire Automobile Company. A new factory was found in Greenville in Pennsylvania in 1912 and was used until the Empire moved back Indianapolis in 1915. By 1916, the Empire was available as either four-cylinder or six-cylinder models in a wide range of body styles. The best year for the Empire was 1917, but by now the Empire was a rather ordinary car and was soon in trouble, partly due to material shortages caused by the First World War. The Empire was finished by 1919.

Emblems

There are very few clear original photos of early Empire cars. However, the poor quality photo dated 1909, shown below, shows an Empire car with a round radiator emblem:

This is an Empire Twenty roadster (1909)   ms

The following is believed to be the first Empire radiator emblem, although I cannot confirm this. This Empire radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is an Empire radiator emblem (1909-1911)     ms
Size: Unknown     MM: Unknown

Empire advertisements in 1911 show a round radiator emblem, which may be the metal Empire emblem shown above, and a brass "EMPIRE" script in capital letters displayed on the radiator core, see example below. Original "EMPIRE" radiator scripts are rare.

This is an Empire ad showing a round radiator emblem and script (1911)   ms

Close-up showing the radiator emblem and script (1911)

By late 1911, the Empire radiator emblem was a blue and white enamel emblem, see example below. This Empire radiator emblem is very rare.

This is an Empire radiator emblem (late 1911-1912)     sam
Size: 57mm diameter     MM: Unknown

But, beware, there are reproduction Empire radiator emblems with this design, see example below:

This is a reproduction Empire radiator emblem      ms
Size: 61mm diameter    MM: None

This reproduction Empire radiator emblem can be distinguished from the original emblem as follows:

The reproduction emblem has a blue ring around the center, the original emblem has a white ring.
The reproduction emblem has thicker letters in the central word "EMPIRE"
The reproduction emblem has a full stop after IND'P'L'S but the original emblem has a comma.
The reproduction has an upward pointing quotation mark at the top left side of the upper edge inscription, the original has a downward pointing quotation mark.

There is also an original maroon and white enamel version of this Empire radiator emblem, see example below. This Empire radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is an Empire radiator emblem(1911-1912)     sam
Size: 57mm diameter    MM: Unknown

Some Empire cars models also carried a lower case style of brass "Empire" radiator script, see example below. Original "Empire" radiator scripts of this kind are rare.

This is an Empire radiator script (c1912-1917)     mjs
Size: 290 mm wide  

This "Empire" radiator script was not offered on all models but was still shown on original company illustrations as late as 1916, see below:

This orignal Empire Model 33 illustration still shows a radiator script (1916)    ms 

The 1913 Empire Model 31 advertisement shown below is decorated with depictions of the hub emblem, which can be clearly seen in close-up. Original Empire hub emblems with this design are very rare.

This is an Empire Model 31 ad showing the hub emblem (late 1912)   ma

Close-up showing the hub emblem 

                                                                                 
This is an Empire Model 31 hub emblem (c1913)   dkc

The fact that this Empire Model 31 advertisement depicts the hub emblem rather than the radiator emblem indicates to me that the new radiator emblem had not been finalized at the time of producing the advertisement, probably late 1912. This suggests that the Empire radiator emblem was changed in 1913.

The new white and blue enamel Empire radiator emblem shown below has also been seen on a surviving, original example of an Empire Model 31 built in Greenville, Pennsylvania in 1913. This Empire radiator emblem is very rare.

This is an Empire radiator emblem (1913-c1915)     sam
Size: 61mm high 61mm wide    MM: Unknown

I do not have the dates of use of the following pale blue, blue and white enamel variation of this Empire radiator emblem. This Empire radiator emblem may have been used for some of the more expensive six-cylinder models in 1916 but I cannot confirm this. This Empire radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is an Empire radiator emblem (c1916)     mjs
Size: 61mm high 61mm wide    MM: Childs

The more commonly seen white and blue enamel Empire radiator emblem shown above at the top of this web post and again below may have been used on other models from about 1915 but I cannot confirm this. This Empire radiator emblem is scarce.

This is an Empire radiator emblem (c1915-1917)      mjs
Size: 64mm wide 64mm high    MM: Unknown (possibly None)

Beware, there are reproduction Empire radiator emblems following this design. Some of these reproduction emblems have a clear flat back, others have a reversed impression on the back with a threaded stud.

The following painted metal, large Empire hub emblem appears to be made for use on the Model 40 in 1915. This Empire hub emblem is very rare.

This appears to be an Empire Model 40 hub emblem (1915)    sam
Size: 104mm diameter    MM: Unknown

The Empire radiator emblem was changed again in 1918 to an oval-shaped emblem, presumably for both the four-cylinder and six-cylinder models, see Empire advertisement shown below. 


This is an Empire ad showing a new emblem (1918)   sep

The blue enamel, oval-shaped Empire radiator emblem is shown below. This Empire radiator emblem is very rare.



This is an Empire radiator emblem (1918-1919)     mjs
Size: 75mm wide 41mm high     MM: Unknown

If you can help with specific dates of use of any of the Empire radiator emblems shown above, please let me know, in order to update this post.







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