October 30, 2020

PIERCE-ARROW

George N Pierce Co. (1901-1909)
Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. (1909-1938)
Buffalo, New York


This is a Pierce-Arrow radiator emblem (1928-date)   mjs
Size: 67mm high 46mm wide     MM: Fox

The Pierce-Arrow was descended from a company engaged in the manufacture of birdcages, ice boxes and other household items. In 1872 the company became the George N Pierce Company and by 1896 was also making bicycles. Interest in automobiles began with a steam car in 1900 but it was a failure.

Then in 1901 David Fergusson joined Pierce as chief engineer and built two cars powered by De Dion gasoline engines. Manufacture of the single-cylinder Pierce Motorette began later that year. A two-cylinder model arrived in 1902 and the four-cylinder Great Arrow model appeared in 1904. A Great Arrow driven by Percy Pierce, son of George N Pierce, won the first Glidden tour in 1905 and the company went on to win the next four Glidden events too. The first six-cylinder Pierce car arrived in 1907 and in 1909 the company and marquee names were changed to Pierce-Arrow.

By 1915 Pierce-Arrow was recognized as a leader in the prestige and luxury car market. Pierce-Arrow followed a policy of not using more than six-cylinder engines even though its competitors in luxury cars were using more powerful eight-cylinder engines. By the mid-1920's, however, Pierce-Arrow was suffering because it had stuck to traditional styling and lower engine power. In 1928 Pierce-Arrow merged with Studebaker and eight-cylinder engines arrived in 1929 and a V-12 in 1931.

In 1933 Studebaker was in receivership and Pierce-Arrow was acquired by a group of Buffalo bankers and businessmen. The streamlined Pierce Silver Arrow appeared in 1933 and was a smash hit at the New York Automobile Show, although only five were built. Pierce-Arrow sales fell each year and on Friday, 13 May 1938 production ceased and the Pierce-Arrow company was sold.

Pierce-Arrow also produced commercial vehicles between 1910 and 1932 (see Pierce-Arrow Truck).

Emblems

The George N. Pierce Company had been making bicycles before it decided to enter the motor car business. Pierce bicycles displayed an elaborate emblem on the front of the bicycle headstock. This bicycle emblem included an arrow motif, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce bicycle headstock emblem (1899) gcm

Even though the Pierce bicycles had this emblem, there was no emblem to be seen on the first single-cylinder Pierce Motorette or two-cylinder Pierce Stanhope models that appeared in 1902 and 1903. 

However, the hubcaps used on the Pierce Stanhope in 1903 and on subsequent models up to 1909, did have a hub emblem with the "Pierce-Arrow" trademark, see examples shown below:

This is a Pierce-Arrow Stanhope hubcap (1903)   gcm

The following is a reproduction Pierce-Arrow hub emblem. Original Pierce-Arrow hub emblems are scarce.

This is a Pierce-Arrow hub disc (1903-1909)    mjs
Size: 49mm diameter

The George N. Pierce Company was most interested to attract a wealthy clientele and did not see the need to advertise their motor cars too overtly. Even the advertising for the Great Arrow cars from 1906 to about 1910, did not show the Pierce-Arrow trademark and a magnifying glass was required to read the Pierce name clearly, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce Great Arrow ad (1907)  ms

The first four-cylinder Pierce cars that appeared in 1904 did display a small rectangular emblem on the radiator tank top, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce showing a radiator emblem (1904) conceptcarz

However, this was not a Pierce radiator emblem but was a "Whitlock Coil Pipe Co." radiator manufacturer's nameplate, which was used from 1904 to 1907, see example shown below:

This is the radiator maker's nameplate (1904)  conceptcarz

Interestingly, the Arrow motif was discretely displayed on the brass sill plates, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce sill plate (1904)   conceptcarz

The following shows a changed brass step plate design for the Pierce Great Arrow in 1905:

This is a Pierce Great Arrow sill plate (1905)  bonhams

The most obvious form of external identification on a motor car at this time, if it was not the look of a distinctive radiator shape, for example as used by Packard, was the use of brass scripts attached to the front of the radiator. 

Pierce-Arrow did use radiator scripts but original period photos showing such radiator scripts are rare, indicating that they were likely to have been available as an optional additional accessory rather than being fitted at the factory. Many surviving Piece-Arrow cars display brass radiator scripts but most are likely to be reproductions added much later.

The earliest original photo of a Pierce-Arrow car with a radiator script dates from 1906, see below:

This is a Pierce Great Arrow with radiator script (1906)   dpl

The following original Pierce-Arrow photo from 1907 also shows a radiator script:

Pierce Great Arrow on the Glidden Tour showing rad script (1907) dpl

The following shows a slightly different brass Pierce-Arrow radiator script. Original Pierce-Arrow radiator scripts are rare.

This is a Pierce-Arrow radiator script (date unknown)   mjs
Size: 326mm wide

The following smaller Pierce-Arrow radiator script is most unusual, as it has a maker's mark on the reverse side:

This is a Pierce-Arrow radiator script (date unknown)   mjs
Size: 170mm wide    MM: Queen Stamp Works   
 

Close-up of reverse showing the script maker's mark

The Pierce-Arrow hubcap design was changed from 1910 to 1928 to show "PIERCE ARROW" bisected by an arrow, see examples shown below:

This is a Pierce-Arrow brass hub face (c1910)    mjs
Size: 61mm diameter

Pierce-Arrow Model 498 B plated hubcap (1913)   ms

In the period to 1928 when there was no clear externally visible means of identification, Pierce-Arrow used a variety of ornamental radiator cap mascots, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce-Arrow Series 80 radiator cap mascot (1927)  gcm

The first Pierce-Arrow radiator emblem appeared in 1928. The emblem was based on the English Pierce family crest and coat of arms. The crest has a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak, and the coat of arms is (in heraldic language) "three ravens rising sable fesse lummette".

This emblem is the white, red, black and blue enamel Pierce-Arrow radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Pierce-Arrow radiator emblem is rare.

This is a Pierce-Arrow radiator emblem (1928-date)   mjs
Size: 67mm high 46mm wide    MM: Fox

The following small black and red emblem was located at the top center of the dashboard instrument panel. This Pierce-Arrow instrument panel emblem is rare.

This is a Pierce-Arrow instrument panel emblem (1929-1930)  mjs
Size: 39mm wide 16mm high   MM: None

Pierce-Arrow Model A instrument panel showing emblem at top (1929-1930) ms

The following is a painted Pierce-Arrow hub emblem:

This is a Pierce-Arrow hub emblem (1929-1931)    mjs
Size: 68mm wide 59mm high    MM: Unknown

There was a special black and white enamel Pierce-Arrow emblem displayed on the step plate on some 1929 Pierce-Arrow models, see example shown below:

This is a Pierce-Arrow step plate (1929)     gcm

Close-up showing Pierce-Arrow step plate emblem (1929)  gcm

The following red, gold and blue enamel Pierce-Arrow emblem was used variously as a crank hole cover emblem in 1932 and as a lower radiator grille emblem in 1933-1935, and also, as a lower rear body panel emblem in 1933 for the Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow. This Pierce-Arrow emblem is rare.

This is a Pierce-Arrow emblem (1932-1935)    mjs
Size: 64mm diameter    MM: Unknown

The following shows this emblem in place as a lower grille emblem on a 1934 Pierce-Arrow:

Pierce-Arrow showing crank hole cover emblem (1934)  bonhams

The following shows this emblem in place as a lower rear body panel emblem on the Pierce Silver Arrow:

Pierce Silver Arrow with lower rear body panel emblem (1933) rmsothebys

The following Pierce-Arrow emblem was used on eight-cylinder models as a fuel tank cover panel emblem in 1932, as a luggage rack emblem in 1933-1936, and as a rear body panel below the trunk where a luggage rack was not fitted from 1933-1936. The emblem was also unusually displayed above the rear tail light on the Pierce Silver Arrow in 1933. This Pierce-Arrow emblem is scarce.

This is a Pierce-Arrow eight-cylinder emblem (1932-1936)  mjs
Size: 57mm diameter   MM: None

The following Pierce-Arrow emblem was used in the same way as the emblem shown above but for twelve-cylinder Pierce-Arrow models. This Pierce-Arrow emblem is scarce.

This is a Pierce-Arrow twelve-cylinder emblem (1932-1936)  mjs
Size: 57mm diameter   MM: None

The following shows the Pierce Twelve emblem displayed over the Pierce Silver Arrow rear tail light:

Pierce Silver Arrow with rear tail light emblem (1933) rmsothebys

The following small red enamel Pierce-Arrow emblems were mounted at the top of the dashboard on eight-cylinder and twelve-cylinder models respectively, These Pierce-Arrow emblems are scarce.

This is a Pierce-Arrow eight-cylinder dash emblem (1932-1935)  mjs
Size: 45mm wide 18mm high   MM: D L Auld

This is a Pierce-Arrow twelve-cylinder dash emblem (1932-1935)  mjs
Size: 45mm wide 18mm high    MM: D L Auld

The following shows the Pierce Eight emblem in place on a dashboard:

Pierce Eight dashboard emblem (1934)    bonhams

The Pierce-Arrow hub caps changed in 1932, as shown below:

This is a Pierce-Arrow hubcap (1932-1938)   bonhams

This is a Pierce-Arrow hubcap (1932-1938)    classiccars

The following two-piece red, blue and black enamel Pierce-Arrow emblem was used variously as an upper left side grille emblem on the Model 836A in 1934-1935, as a lower grille emblem in 1936, and as a rear body panel emblem in 1936-1938. This Pierce-Arrow emblem is rare.

This is a Pierce-Arrow emblem (1934-1938)    mjs
Size: 95mm wide 68mm high overall   MM: Unknown

The following Pierce-Arrow emblem was used on the final models built in 1937-1938. This emblem was used as a lower grille emblem in 1937-1938 and as a rear body panel emblem on some models in 1938. This emblem is a one-piece emblem using the same colors as the 1932 emblem shown earlier above. There were very few Pierce-Arrow cars built in 1937 and 1938, making this a very rare emblem.

This is a Pierce-Arrow emblem (1937-1938)   rmsothebys



 





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