April 21, 2020

THOMAS

E R Thomas Motor Co. (1903-1918)

Buffalo, New York


This is a Thomas Flyer radiator emblem (1912-c1918)      mjs
Size: 64mm diameter   MM: Robbins

Erwin Ross Thomas had been making a car called the Buffalo but decided to use his own name for new cars from 1903. The first Thomas cars were 8hp single-cylinder tonneau models with a Renault style hood. The Thomas became a 24hp three-cylinder model with a conventional hood and radiator in 1904 and was called the Thomas Flyer. In 1905 the car had grown to 40hp and 50hp four-cylinder models and a 60hp six-cylinder model. In 1905 Thomas also started to build taxicabs using a 16hp four-cylinder engine. The six-cylinder Thomas Flyer car was entered in several races from 1905. In the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup race a Thomas Flyer made the fastest lap for an American car at 67.6 mph.

In July 1908 a four-cylinder Thomas Flyer won the epic New York to Paris race with George Schuster and Montague Roberts driving around the world in 169 days. This achievement resulted in very wide publicity for the Thomas Flyer. But the company lost sight of quality and new Thomas cars were not well made. By 1911 things started to go badly wrong with falling sales and internal management disagreements.

Erwin Ross Thomas left the company but kept his taxicab business which he continued for several years. Quality was returned to the Thomas but it was too late and the company was in receivership in 1912 and in 1913 the company was sold. A few Thomas Flyer cars continued to be built to order using the remaining parts up to around 1918.

Emblems

Original photos of the first Thomas Flyer cars from 1904 show a small rectangular nameplate attached to the front of the radiator tank top, see examples shown below:

This is a Thomas Flyer showing radiator nameplate (1904)     dpl

Close up showing the radiator nameplate (1904)

This is a Thomas Flyer racer showing a radiator nameplate (1905)    dpl

The detailed design of this radiator nameplate cannot be seen from the photos but may be similar to the Thomas nameplate shown below. This Thomas Flyer nameplate is very rare.

This is a Thomas Flyer nameplate (1905-c1907)      mjs
Size: 76mm wide 39mm high

By 1906, the Thomas Flyer had a small "Thomas" script soldered to the radiator tank top, see example below. This Thomas Flyer script continued to be used on some models into 1909 and is very rare.  

This is a Thomas Flyer radiator script emblem (1906)     ms
Size: 92mm wide

The Thomas name was also displayed on the sill plates, see example below:

This is a Thomas Flyer sill plate (1906)    hsc

The small rectangular Thomas nameplate continued to be used and was attached to the body or at the rear of the car, or sometimes at the bottom of the radiator, see example below:

This is the Thomas Flyer nameplate (1906)    hsc

By 1908, some Thomas Flyer models also carried a brass "Thomas Flyer" radiator script, see examples below. Original "Thomas" and "Thomas Flyer" radiator scripts are very rare.

This is a Thomas Flyer Model F showing a radiator script (1908)     ms

Close up of a Thomas Flyer radiator script (c1908)      ms

Six-cylinder Thomas Flyer models produced for the 1910 model year were the first Thomas cars to carry a radiator emblem. Original photos of Thomas Flyer cars from 1910 show a round flat radiator emblem, see example below:

This is a Thomas Flyer Model 6-40 showing a radiator emblem (1910)    hcg

Close up showing a round flat radiator emblem (1910)    hcg

This round, flat Thomas Flyer radiator emblem was finished in red, white and blue enamel and showed the route of the New York to Paris race that had brought such good publicity to the Thomas Flyer. There are examples of this radiator emblem on some surviving Thomas Flyer cars from late 1909 and 1910, see examples below:

This is a Thomas Flyer Model 6-40 radiator emblem (1909)     ms

This is a Thomas Flyer radiator emblem (1910)   sjb4photos

The following example of the first Thomas Flyer radiator emblem is very rare:

This is a Thomas Flyer radiator emblem (late 1909-1910)      mjs
Size: 64mm diameter    MM: Unknown (possibly None)

Beware, there are poorer quality reproduction copies of this emblem.

There is a different but original version of the flat Thomas Flyer radiator emblem without the white enamel "The Thomas Flyer" words around the edge of the emblem, see example below. Possibly this was a later variation but I cannot confirm this. This Thomas Flyer radiator emblem is also very rare.

This is a Thomas Flyer radiator emblem (c1910-1911)     sam
Size: 64mm diameter     MM: Unknown

The following Thomas Flyer advertisement of 1910 shows the radiator emblem design and a logo for the E.R.Thomas Motor Company:

This is a Thomas Flyer ad showing radiator emblem and company logo (1910)  ms

The E.R.T.M.C. company logo appears as an emblem attached below the dash board on some six-cylinder Thomas Flyer models, see example below:

This emblem show the E.R.T.M.C. company logo (1910)    bonhams

The flat Thomas Flyer radiator emblem shown earlier is seen in original photos up to 1911, see example below:

This is a Thomas Flyer showing a radiator emblem (1911)      dpl

Close up showing a flat radiator emblem (1911)      dpl

For the 1912 model year, the Thomas Flyer radiator was changed to a wonderful, half-spherical, domed radiator emblem finished in red, white and blue enamel with the same design as the previous flat emblem, see example shown above at the top of this post and below. This beautiful Thomas Flyer radiator emblem is much prized by collectors and is rare. The domed version is easier to find than the flat version, as it was used from 1912 to about 1918 when Thomas production ceased, leaving a number of unused emblems.

This is a Thomas Flyer radiator emblem (1912-c1918)     mjs
Size: 64mm diameter    MM: Robbins

Thomas flyer advertisements in 1911 and 1912 show a "Thomas-Nothing Counts Like Service" logo, see example below:

This is a Thomas Flyer ad showing a new Thomas logo (1911)  ms

This "Thomas-Nothing Counts Like Service" logo appears in Thomas Flyer serial plates with the logo finished in blue and white enamel, see example below. This Thomas Flyer serial plate is very rare.

This is a Thomas Flyer serial plate (c1911)     mjs
Size: 75mm high 63mm wide

The same "Thomas" logo has been seen on a large nickel plated Thomas Flyer radiator script, see example below. Original "Thomas" radiator scripts with this design are extremely rare.

This is a Thomas radiator script (c1911-1912)     mjs
Size: 373mm high 360mm wide

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