February 19, 2022


Stanley Bros. Motor Carriage Co. (1896-1899)

Stanley Bros. (1901)

Watertown, Massachusetts

Stanley Bros. (1901-1902)

Stanley Motor Carriage Co. (1902-1924)
Newton, Massachusetts 

This is a Stanley radiator emblem (1920-1924)    mjs
Size: 69mm wide 56mm high     MM: Unknown

Francis E Stanley and Freelan O Stanley were identical twins. They went on to produce perhaps the most famous steam car in the world, the Stanley steamer. Francis began working on a steam car in 1896 and by 1898 the Stanley brothers had built three light steam carriages. Later that year a Stanley steamer was raced at 27.4mph for a short distance and beat all competitors and the same day the Stanley was the only car able to reach the top of a specially inclined ramp which it achieved with ease to the amazement of everyone present.

The publicity resulted in many orders for the Stanley, so the Stanley brothers began production in earnest. Then in 1899 they sold their business for a fortune with the understanding that they would not re-enter the steam vehicle business for a year. One of the buyers went away to produce the Stanley designed steamer as the Locomobile (see Locomobile).

In 1901 the Stanley brothers were back in production again in a new factory in Newton and reorganized as the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. By 1906 the Stanley had a coffin-like hood to conceal the boiler and a steering wheel had replaced the tiller. At Ormond Beach in 1906 a streamlined Stanley "Rocket" racer was taken to 127.66mph which was a world land speed record. The Stanley brothers started to build 12-passenger open-sided hotel buses called the Mountain Wagon in 1909. The Mountain Wagon was built until 1916 with 1-ton and 1-1/2-ton truck versions made in small numbers.

The Stanley brothers were not interested in developing improvements to their steamer car until 1913 when Stanley steamers were updated and in 1917, with sales falling, the Stanley's went in for some advertising which they had not done before. A period of styling changes then began to make the Stanley steamer appear more like a gasoline car. But sales continued to fall and the company was in receivership by 1923. The Stanley plant and assets were sold to the Steam Vehicle Corporation of America in 1924 and production was moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania and the car was renamed the S.V.


The first Stanley Brothers steamers did not carry an emblem but did display the "Stanley Bros" name on a small nickel plated nameplate/serial plate attached to the rear of the vehicle, see example shown below. This Stanley Bros. nameplate is very rare.

This is a Stanley nameplate/serial plate (1902)    mjs
Size: 81mm wide 29mm high

I do not know, if there was a similar, earlier nameplate for Stanley Bros. vehicles produced in Watertown, but, if so, these would be extremely rare.

The early steamers built by the Stanley Motor Carriage Company also did not carry an emblem but displayed a similar nameplate/serial plate to that show above but showing the "Stanley" name, see example shown below. This Stanley nameplate is rare.

This is a Stanley nameplate/serial plate (1904)    mjs
Size: 83mm wide 32mm high

The following is a Stanley patent plate, which was mounted on the dash. This Stanley patent plate is very rare.

This is a Stanley patent plate (1904)     bonhams

By 1906, the Stanley patent plate had increased in size and content, see example shown below. This Stanley patent plate is rare.

This is a Stanley patent plate (c1906)    mjs
Size: 78mm wide 51mm high

From 1906, the Stanley steamer was given a coffin-like hood, which carried a brass "Stanley" script. I cannot confirm that this script was first used in 1906 but original photos from about 1907 do show the script, see example shown below:

This is a Stanley steamer displaying a "Stanley" script (c1907)  dpl

Stanley hood scripts continued in use for some years and are regularly displayed on surviving Stanley steamers, see examples shown below:

This is a Stanley hood script (1910)    bonhams

This is a Stanley hood script (1913)    ms

In 1920 the Stanley was given a flat radiator, which carried an imposing, and much sought after, radiator emblem depicting a racing chariot pulled by four horses. The emblem has the "Stanley" name in blue enamel and can be found in plain metal, see example shown above at the top of this post, or nickel plated, see example shown below. These Stanley radiator emblems are rare.

This is a Stanley radiator emblem (1920-1924)    sam
Size: 69mm wide 56mm high    MM: Unknown

Emblem collectors should beware as there are reproduction Stanley radiator emblems, which can be identified by the lack of detail in depth on the front and by the flat shiny back.

Some Stanley models also displayed a nickel plated "Stanley Steamer" radiator script, see photo shown below:

Stanley Steamer 740 with rad emblem & script (1921) maas museum   


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