December 19, 2020


Selden Motor Vehicle Co. (1907-1914)
Rochester, New York

This is a Selden radiator emblem (1908-1914)     mjs
Size: 46mm diameter   MM: Robbins

In 1877 George Baldwin Selden designed an automotive vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine and in 1879 he applied for a patent, which was eventually granted in 1895. Selden sold his patent to the Electric Vehicle Company and from 1903 gasoline car manufacturers were expected to pay royalties before they could sell their cars. Selden had not built a car when he applied for his patent but he did build and run the car in 1906 under a court order to prove his 1877 design. 

The Selden Motor Vehicle Company was established in Rochester in late 1906 by absorbing the Buffalo Gasoline Motor Company.

The first Selden car was designed by E T Birdsall and not by George Selden. The Selden appeared in June 1907 and was a 30 hp four-cylinder car offered in three body styles. The advertising slogan was "Made by the Father of Them All". In 1911 George Selden's patent was declared unenforceable in the industry following a long legal challenge led by Henry Ford and in the same year the Selden plant was damaged by a fire. Production of the Selden car continued, however, until 1914 when Selden decided to concentrate on commercial vehicles which he had started to build in 1913 (see Selden Truck).


The first Selden production motor car in 1907 is unlikely to have carried an emblem but would have displayed the Selden name on a Selden maker's nameplate possibly including a serial number.

The Selden did carry a round radiator emblem from 1908, see original photo shown below taken on the 1908 Glidden Tour:

This is a Selden car with a radiator emblem (1908)   dpl

This is the red and blue enamel Selden radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post. This Selden radiator emblem is very rare.

Emblem collectors should beware, as there are reproduction Selden emblems with shiny backs and no makers mark. The following photo compares an original and a reproduction Selden radiator emblem:

Original (top) & Repro emblem (bottom)  khc

It is interesting to note that there is no obvious way of knowing which way round to display this Selden radiator emblem. Most surviving Selden automobiles have been restored with the emblem mounted with the blue enamel panel on the right side, see example shown below:

This is a Selden Model 40R automobile (1911)  conceptcarz

However, close examination of original period photos show both ways of mounting the emblem but mostly with the red enamel panel on the right side and the Selden commercial vehicle emblem clearly has the red enamel panel on the right side, see below:

Selden truck radiator emblem with red panel on the right side mjs

The following original photo from the 1910 Munsey Historic Tour shows a Selden car with a radiator emblem ( red on right), a brass Selden script mounted on the radiator core, and the Selden name displayed on the hood sides using a stencil or a decal:

Selden car showing radiator emblem & script (1910)   dpl

The following are examples of Selden radiator scripts:

This is a Selden radiator script (c1910)    dkc
Size: 292mm wide 89mm high

This is a Selden radiator script (c1911)    dkc
Size: Unknown

The following Selden car advertisement has a representation of a different style of Selden script:

Selden ad showing a script style at the top (1911)  ms

This style of Selden radiator script is seen on the following surviving 1911 Selden Model 40R , although the radiator script is likely to be a reproduction script made at the time of restoration of the car. Original Selden radiator scripts of any style are rare.

Selden Model 40R showing radiator emblem & script (1911) rmsothebys

The following is a Selden maker's nameplate/serial plate. This Selden plate is very rare.

This is a Selden nameplate/serial plate (c1908)   mjs
Size: 98mm wide 51mm high

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