October 31, 2023


Holsman Automobile Co. (1902-1910)
Chicago, Illinois

This is a Holsman nameplate (c1904)   mjs
Size: 102mm wide 38mm high

The Holsman began in 1902 as a 5 hp two-cylinder high-wheeler runabout using a simple rope drive and was quickly successful. So successful that, by 1906, the Holsman Automobile Company had expanded its production capacity six fold and had started a night shift to meet the demand. It was the Holsman that encouraged many other companies to enter the high-wheeler motor car market. 

However, Holsman sales began to fall after 1906.  Holsman started to offer light delivery vans from 1908 using the same high-wheeler design as their passenger cars. Four-cylinder models were added in 1909 and engine sizes increased, but Holsman refused to add pneumatic tires or to modernize their design in other ways and their vehicles became increasingly out of date. The company was in receivership by 1910


The Holsman never did carry an emblem but early Holsman models displayed the "Holsman" name on a maker's nameplate/patent plate, usually attached to the front or rear of the vehicle. 

The following cast brass example was seen on a surviving 1902 Holsman and is very rare:

This is a Holsman nameplate/serial plate (1902-c1903)    ms

The black painted brass plate example shown above at the top of this post was probably used from about 1904 and is rare.

Surviving Holsman automobiles often display incorrect Holsman nameplates, no doubt attached during restoration. This together with the lack of photos of original Holsman vehicles showing the nameplates, makes it difficult to be precise about dates. However, later Holsman vehicles carried combined maker's nameplates and serial plates, see example shown below:

This is a Holsman nameplate/serial plate (c1906)  maas museum   

This is similar to the brass Holsman nameplate/serial plate shown below, which may have been originally painted black. This Holsman nameplate/serial plate is rare.

This is a Holsman nameplate/serial plate (c1906)    mjs
Size: 127mm wide 44mm high

The following photo shows a surviving Holsman from 1908 displaying the "Holsman" name in script style painted on the front box. However, I cannot conform that this script was on the vehicle originally and it may have been added during later restoration.

Holsman runabout showing a painted script (1908) earlyamericanautomobiles

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