February 22, 2024

SELDEN PATENT

Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (1903-1911) 


This is a Selden Patent plate (c1903)    mjs
Size: 76mm wide 38mm high

George B Selden was a patent attorney living in Rochester, New York when, in 1879, he applied for a patent on an automobile design using a Brayton-type engine. Selden made several amendments to his patent application but the patent was finally granted in November 1895 giving him full rights as the inventor of a gasoline automobile.

In 1899, Selden sold his patent to the Electric Vehicle Company, which attempted to force every gasoline car manufacturer in America to pay royalties to them. A group of gasoline car manufacturers was brought together and, in March 1903, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (A.L.A.M.) was established. A.L.A.M. announced publicly that henceforth only licensed manufacturers were authorized to make or sell gasoline automobiles, and anyone else doing so was liable to prosecution for infringement of the Selden patent.

Most American car manufacturers agreed to pay royalties by way of license fees to A.L.A.M. but a few refused to do so. One of these was Henry Ford, who fought against the Selden patent and eventually won. In January 1911, the court decided that the Selden patent was valid but only for use with the Brayton-type engine that Selden had used in his design. This type of engine was no longer used in the industry, so A.L.A.M. was no longer able to demand royalties from car manufacturers. A.L.A.M. was finished.

In the period 1903 to 1911, A.L.A.M. issued brass Selden Patent plates to be fixed to the body of every car made by automobile manufacturers, who agreed to pay the Selden license fees. The Selden Patent plates were individually stamped with a serial number.

Emblems

There appear to have been three versions of the Selden Patent plate that was to be attached to cars by license paying automobile manufacturers. 

The first Selden Patent plate design was used from 1903 to 1904, see example shown above at the top of this post. This particular Selden Patent plate is stamped "3028" and dates from about 1903 and is very rare.

There was a change in design of the Selden Patent plate, probably in early 1904, with the addition of the word "Patented" above the patent date, see example shown below. This particular Selden Patent plate is stamped "27,511" and dates from about 1905. This Selden Patent plate is scarce.

This is a Selden Patent plate (c1905)     mjs
Size: 76mm wide 38mm high

The following Selden Patent plate is similar to the plate shown above but displays a slight change in the detailed design just above the final letter "T" in the word "Patent". From a study of the Selden Patent plate numbers, this change in design took place in about 1910. This particular Selden Patent plate is stamped "146,148". This Selden Patent plate is scarce

This is a Selden Patent plate (c1910)    mjs
Size: 76mm wide 38mm high

A few automobile manufacturing companies used their own Selden Patent plate, see the Simplex Automobile Company Selden Patent plate example shown below. This Simplex Selden Patent plate is very rare. 

This is a Simplex Selden Patent plate (c1907)    mjs
Size: 96mm wide 46mm high




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