July 15, 2020


White Sewing Machine Co. (1900-1906)

White Co. (1906-1915)

White Motor Co. (1916-1918)

Cleveland, Ohio

This is a White radiator emblem (c1914-1918)      mjs
Size: 94mm wide 33mm high   MM: Unknown

Thomas H White and his sons were manufacturers of sewing machines and bicycles when they entered the automotive business in 1900 with the production of four White steam cars. In 1901 production increased to 193 units and White commercial vehicle production also began (see White Trucks). In 1901 also, four White steam cars were entered in the New York to Buffalo Endurance Run and all were awarded first-class certificates. The first White steamers were buggy styled stanhopes but in 1903 the engine was mounted up front under a hood in a touring model.

In 1905 the hood design changed to the "White curve" which became a distinguishing feature of White cars and White trucks into the 1930's. A special White racer called Whistling Billy driven by Webb Jay set a world record of 73.75mph in July 1905, which gave White national publicity. White sales rose to 1,534 in 1906 when the company was reorganized as the White Company.

A 20/30 hp four-cylinder gasoline car was added to the White line in 1910 and steam car production ceased after 1911. In 1912 a 60 hp six-cylinder joined the line of four-cylinder White cars. Thomas White died in June 1914 and in 1916 the company was reorganized as the White Motor Company.

From 1916 only four-cylinder models were built and all passenger car production ceased in 1918. Thereafter the company concentrated on the commercial vehicle field, apart from a few cars made to special order in the early 1930's. A total of 9,122 White steamers and 8,927 White gasoline cars were built.


White bicycles produced shortly before the appearance of the first White automobile displayed the "White" name on a colorful decal or emblem attached to the front of the bicycle headstock, see original White bicycle brochure illustration below:

This is the cover of a White bicycle brochure showing a headstock emblem (1897)   ms

Detail of the White bicycle headstock emblem from the brochure (1897)    ms

However, the first White steamer passenger vehicles did not carry an emblem at all, but would have displayed the White name on a small maker's nameplate or serial plate containing patent details, which was attached to the body or on the dash, see example below:

This is a White nameplate/serial plate (c1904)    mjs
Size: 104mm wide 56mm high

The White name was also displayed on the hub caps and on the sill plates of some early White models, see example below. Original White sill plates of this kind are rare.

This is a White sill plate (1904)    ms
Size; Unknown

The following is a White steamer hub cap:

This is a White steamer hub (c1908)    dkc

Original photos show that in 1905 some White steamers began to display a large, brass "White" script attached to the radiator core, see original photo below. Original White radiator scripts from this period are very rare.

This is a White steamer displaying a radiator script  (1905)    dpl

Radiator scripts continued to be displayed for several years but, initially at least, on some models only. Many original photos of White steamers from 1905 and later do not show a radiator script. This  suggests that the "White" radiator script may have been an optional extra or a third party accessory. 

The following original photo taken on the 1909 Glidden Tour shows a White steamer with a different radiator script design:

This is a White steamer with a dariator script (1909)     dpl

The now more familiar, smaller brass "White" radiator script, shown below, is seen in original photos from about 1909 and may have been used earlier, indicating that these scripts may have been supplied by the White Company:

This is a White radiator script (c1909)     mjs
Size: 162mm wide

This same White radiator script is also seen on original photos of White cars in 1911 and 1912 but with no radiator emblem. However, from 1911, White passenger car advertisements display a White logo in the form of a stylized radiator, with a letter "W" in the center and with leaves attached to the sides, all surmounted by a white albatross, see example below:

This is a White car ad showing the new logo (1911)    tha

Close up showing the White logo (1911)    tha

I do not know when the first White radiator emblems were used but the appearance of the new White logo from 1911 suggests this may have been 1911 or 1912. The lack of confirmed evidence of the early use of radiator emblems from original photos suggests that these emblems were used on certain, limited models only, possibly for the six-cylinder models introduced from 1912.

The red and white enamel White radiator emblem shown below corresponds closely to the logo shown above and may have been the first White radiator emblem but I cannot confirm this. This White radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a White radiator emblem (dates uncertain c1911-1912)    mjs
Size: 85mm wide 52mm high    MM: Unknown

The blue and white enamel White radiator emblem shown below is a slightly different design and may have been an earlier prototype emblem design, although I cannot confirm this. This White radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a White radiator emblem (dates unknown)     sam
Size: 92mm wide 54mm high     MM: Unknown

There was a slightly changed logo in White advertisements from 1913, showing a more realistic radiator with the albatross above but without the side leaf decoration, see example below:

This White car ad shows a new logo (1913)  ms

Close-up showing new White logo (1913)

The white enamel White radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below matches the new logo and is frequently seen on surviving White passenger cars from about 1915 until the end of production in 1918. This suggests a start date of around 1914. This White radiator emblem is rare.

This is a White radiator emblem (c1914-1918)    mjs
Size: 94mm wide 33mm high    MM: Unknown

The White name and logo was also displayed on the sill plates, see example shown below. This White sill plate is scarce.

This is a White sill plate (c1914-1918)   mjs
Size: 258mm wide 39mm high

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

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