April 15, 2021

COLUMBIA

Columbia Automobile Co. (1899-1901)
Electric Vehicle Co. (1901-1909)
Columbia Motor Car Co. (1909-1913)
Hartford, Connecticut


This is a Columbia radiator emblem (1911-1913)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter  MM: Unknown (poss Whitehead & Hoag)

Colonel Albert Pope was America's largest producer of bicycles, which were marketed under the Columbia name. Pope started to experiment with automobiles in 1896 with both electric and gasoline powered vehicles. In 1899, the Electric Vehicle Company merged with Pope's automobile manufacturing facilities in order to build electric taxicabs. The result was the Columbia Automobile Company to manufacture the cars and the Electric Vehicle Company as the holding company for the taxicab subsidiaries to be set up in various cities in America.

The Columbia Automobile Company name was dropped in 1901 and Electric Vehicle Company was the company name used for all Columbia automobiles, both gasoline and electric. By 1904 there were as many as 37 different Columbia models available. Over the next few years, the production of gasoline powered cars increased faster than electric cars and the number of different models was rationalized. In 1907 to 1908 a hybrid gas-electric called the Magnetic was introduced. Both electric and gasoline powered commercial vehicles were also built by Columbia between 1899 and 1907.

In 1909 there were five gasoline models and just two electrics. That year the company name was changed to Columbia Motor Car Company. Production continued to increase but in 1910 the company was absorbed into Benjamin Briscoe's United States Motor group. The Columbia continued until the collapse of United States Motor in 1913.

Emblems

The Columbia bicycles made by the Pope Manufacturing Company displayed a "Columbia" trademark script on the bicycle head stock emblem and in advertisements, see example below:

Columbia bicycle ad with script & emblem (1897) ms

Early advertisements of Columbia motor cars also displayed the "Columbia" trademark script, see example below:

Columbia motor carriage ad with script logo (1898)  ms

The first Columbia motor cars did not carry an emblem but would have displayed the "Columbia" name on a small maker's plate or serial plate attached to the body of the car. 

A surviving, much restored Columbia electric landaulet has the "Columbia" trademark script and company name either painted or displayed on a decal on the side of the vehicle, see the photo shown below. However, I cannot confirm that this script would have been used originally.

Columbia electric landaulet side inscription (1899)  rmsothebys 

The following is an early example of a small brass Columbia maker's nameplate, which was attached to the body of a Columbia electric car. Early Columbia maker's nameplates are very rare.

This is a Columbia maker's nameplate (1903)     gcm

The Columbia script logo was also displayed on the hubcaps, see example shown below:

This is a Columbia hubcap (c1903)      dkc

Columbia scripts were not displayed on early cars. A number of restored early Columbia cars do display scripts, but these have been added later during restoration. A possible exception is the following "Columbia" script painted on the outside of the dash of a restored 1903 Columbia car. Scripts are known to have been painted on the dash on some very early motor cars.

Columbia electric with script painted on the dash (1903)  hyman

The first four-cylinder gasoline powered Columbia cars appearing in 1904, carried a small brass nameplate mounted on the radiator tank top, see example shown below:

This is a Columbia car showing a radiator nameplate (1904)   bruceduffie

However, this radiator nameplate is a radiator maker's emblem and not a Columbia nameplate.

The same nameplate is seen on a surviving 1904 Columbia, see photo shown below:

Columbia Mark XLIII with radiator maker's emblem (1904)  bonhams  

The brass Columbia radiator script seen on this surviving Columbia is unlikely to be original, as Columbia scripts are not seen in original Columbia car photos until about 1910.

The same Columbia Mark XLIII shown above has the original Columbia serial and patent plates displayed on the dashboard, see below. Original Columbia serial and patent plates are very rare.

This is the Columbia serial plate (1904)    bonhams

Columbia patent plate displayed top left side on dash (1904) bonhams

By the following year, the Columbia patent and serial plates had been combined into a single data plate, see example shown below. This Columbia combined data plate is rare.

This is a combined Columbia patent/serial plate (1905)   mjs
Size: 113mm wide 56mm high

Some Columbia cars from 1906 carry a wider brass plate on the radiator tank top, see example shown below. 

Columbia car with radiator nameplate (1906)    dpl    

   Close up showing radiator emblem/nameplate (1906)   

This is a Columbia radiator nameplate emblem, which can be more clearly seen on a surviving 1906 Columbia Mark XLVII, see below. This Columbia radiator nameplate emblem appears similar to the 1903 maker's nameplate shown earlier above and is extremely rare.

This is a Columbia Mark XLVII with a Columbia nameplate emblem (1906)    conceptcarz

By 1909, the Columbia serial plate no longer included any patent details but did include the Columbia script logo, as well as the model designation, see example shown below. This Columbia serial plate is rare.

This is a Columbia Mark 48-3 serial plate (1909)    mjs
Size: 85mm wide 40mm high

I can find no further evidence of emblems or radiator scripts from original photos or advertisements up to 1910, see one of several specially commissioned Columbia advertisements published in Life magazine in 1910 which still shows no external identification:

Columbia ad showing no emblem or script (1910) Life

However, the first "Columbia" radiator scripts appear in some original photos from 1910, see example shown below:

This is a Columbia car with rad script in the NY to Atlanta Good Roads Tour (1910)   dpl

The 1910 Columbia sales catalog contains illustrations of Columbia cars, which carry a small metal "Columbia" script mounted on the front hood sides, see example shown below:

Columbia Mark 48 Touring with hood side scripts (1910) kcstudio

Close up showing location of "Columbia" hood side script (1910)

A Columbia car taking part in the 1911 Glidden Tour is seen in original photos to carry a large round radiator emblem, although the detailed design of the emblem cannot be seen, see photo shown below:

Columbia car on Glidden Tour with large radiator emblem (1911) dpl

Close-up showing large round radiator emblem (1911)    dpl

I can find no other Columbia cars with this radiator emblem. A smaller, round radiator emblem is seen on other Columbia cars in 1911, so it is possible that the large round Columbia radiator emblem shown above is a prototype emblem. If this emblem can be identified and found it may be ultra rare.

The following photo of a surviving Columbia Mark 85 shows a smaller round radiator emblem:

This is a Columbia Mark 85 with a round radiator emblem (1911)    kcstudio

This emblem is the black and white enamel Columbia radiator emblem illustrating various mechanical and other instruments shown below. This Columbia radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a Columbia radiator emblem (1911-1912)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter    MM: Whitehead & Hoag

Advertisements for the Columbia Knight in 1912 and 1913 show a similar Columbia radiator emblem but with a serrated edge, see example shown below:

Columbia Silent Knight advertisement (1912) Life

Columbia Knight ad showing radiator emblem (1913)

This Columbia emblem is the black and white enamel Columbia radiator emblem with a serrated edge, as shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Columbia radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a Columbia radiator emblem (1912-1913)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter  MM: Unknown (poss Whitehead & Hoag)





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