November 29, 2022


Biddle Motor Car Co. (1915-1921)

Biddle-Crane Motor Car Co. (1921-1922)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is a Biddle radiator grille emblem (c1918)   mjs
Size: 48mm high 38mm wide    MM: Unknown

The Biddle, named after the prominent Biddle family, was a beautiful, stylish assembled four-cylinder automobile with exquisite coachwork. Biddle aimed for quality rather than quantity and this was carried through into Biddle advertising, which, in itself, represented the highest standard of artistic design and the similarly high aspirations of the Biddle Motor Car Company for its clientele.  

The Biddle Motor Car Company was incorporated in October 1915 and the Biddle automobile was introduced at the Philadelphia Auto Show in January 1916. The first Biddle automobiles were 23 hp models offered in a range of body styles. It was a small luxury car distinguished by its v-shaped Mercedes-like radiator and other European features, such as cycle fenders, wire wheels and step plates instead of running boards on the more sporty models. 

Biddle production was relatively low-key with about 100 cars produced in both 1915 and 1916, and about 500 cars per year in the next three years. However, the recession following the First World War brought problems. Initially the company thought a move of their headquarters to Fifth Avenue in New York City might help but this did not work and the company was sold in 1920 to a syndicate, which included H. C. Maibohm of Maibohm Motors Company (see Maibohm), but no new Biddle cars were completed before the company was sold again in early 1921.

The company was renamed Biddle-Crane Motor Car Co. and immediately completed and delivered 40 cars that had been ordered previously. A new line of cars was prepared but no more than a handful were completed before Biddle-Crane went out of business in 1922. Total production of the Biddle was about 1,750 cars.


Original photos of Biddle automobiles and most surviving Biddle cars show no sign of an emblem.

The Biddle was produced for a clientele that was interested in exclusive quality and quiet but pleasing advertising, see example from Life magazine shown below:

Biddle Roadster advert (1918)   eBay

It is not surprising that the Biddle did not commonly carry an emblem. It had its unique design as its distinguishing feature.

The Biddle name, however, was discretely displayed on the hubcaps, see example shown below:

Biddle Ormond Speedway Special hubcap (1920)  rmsothebys

The following are examples of Biddle hub emblems:

This is a Biddle hub emblem (1917-1918)    sac
Size: Unknown

This is a Biddle hub emblem (c1918-1920)    mjs
Size: 58mm diameter

Biddle Rudge-Whitworth hub emblem (c1920)  sam
Size: 58mm diameter

Some early Biddle models did carry a small emblem mounted on the radiator grille, see example shown below:

Biddle showing a radiator grill emblem (1918)   bmhv

This is the red painted, shield-shaped Biddle radiator grille emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Biddle radiator emblem is rare.

This is a Biddle radiator grille emblem (c1918)    mjs
Size: 48mm high 38mm wide    MM: Unknown

The following brass radiator emblem was attached to the top of the v-shaped radiator of a 1917 Biddle Model D touring car, once owned by Henry Austin Clark, then in the Hurrah collection and then sold to Parker Wickham, who later removed the emblem. It has a letter "B" inscribed on the face of the emblem but whether this emblem was made specially for a customer or was meant to represent "Biddle" is not known.

This is a custom made Biddle radiator emblem (1917)  mjs
Size: 127mm wide 60mm high  MM: None

It is not known, if there was an emblem inscribed with the Biddle-Crane Motor Car Company name in 1921 to 1922. If such an emblem exists, it would be extremely rare.


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