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The Brecht Automobile Co. of St. Louis, Mo


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My family briefly made cars in St. Louis. This occurred over three years starting in 1901. It was a side line their main business was making butcher supplies. I have a few pictures and a tiny bit of information. Apparently they were mostly steamers, none had an internal combustion engine.

I'd would be interesting in knowing if there any surviving examples of these vehicles? I would be also interested in any information about these vehicles as well as other sources that might be tapped to help locate one. Thanks

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I have dug a little more information on the Brecht Automobile Co. Apparently, they worked with the H. F. Borbein & Co. Their shop was on Cass Ave down the street from the Brecht facility. They made the drive train and the steering gear.The Brecht Co furnished the steam engine which might have been a converted refrigeration compressor. Also, the Brecht Co was the more established company and probably provided the financial capital. So any information on the Borbein Co. would be appreciated.

Edited by Richard von Brecht (see edit history)
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I did a search on Google for "brecht borbein" and came up with this. There were more listings too. Good luck....

BORBEIN-St. Louis, Mlssouri-(1900,1904-1909}-ln 1899 H.F. Borbein & Company began manufacturing solid steel axles and artillery wood wheels at the corner of Ninth and Clark in St. Louis. In 1900, when his quarters became cramped there, Henry Borbein moved to Cass Avenue - and within a year was crowded again, but without sufficient capital to make another move. During 1900 he had built an electric runabout and caught the "automotive bug." Consequently, early in 1901, he joined forces with the Brecht Butcher's Supply Company, which had decided to establish an automotive sideline. Borbein served as manager of the Brecht Automobile Company from 1901 until October 1903 when he had the wherewithal to buyout Brecht, immediately changing the name of the product from Brecht to Borbein and announcing that he stood ready "to fill all outstanding orders." Like the latter-day Brechts, Borbeins were sold in diverse states of un*dress. Motors, tanks and connections were never supplied, but the rest varied according to model. Borbein's No. 26, for example, was a large 130-inch steel*framed touring car chassis "furnished ready for power with one coat of lead paint, with or without upholstering." No doubt Borbein's product was bought by both the backyard do-it-yourselfer and unimaginative entrepreneurs who wanted to get into manufacture the easy way. Precisely how long Borbein remained in business selling these quasi-kit cars is not known. Although he was pressed for receivership in August 1907, H.F. Borbein was still advertising late in 1909. Thereafter he continued in the automobile parts manufacturing field, selling out to his son Alfred Borbein in 1919.

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Have you checked with the Horseless Carriage Foundation Inc? It is a research foundation connected to the Horseless Carriage Club of America. I believe it is hcfi.org and there are links to them scattered about AACA. I know there is one in the horseless carriage forum near the bottom of the forum choices.

HCFI is a great asset to the hobby and very reasonably priced. But there is a research charge.

Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2

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I'll be darn , here it is but it's under H.F. Borbein assignor to Gus V. Brecht Butchers Supply Company of St Louis Missouri Patent US0708793

Another bit I found that may be of interest http://www.earlyamericanautomobiles.com/americanautomobiles6.htm

( a little over half way down the page )

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
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Thanks guys for the excellent research. Lots of new material.

For those who are interested. The Brecht Company had a very extensive manufacturing operation. The catalog has hundreds of items. They equipped meat packing houses around the world.

According to my father they started a line of refrigerated display cases some time in the twenties or thirties. They had problems which drained the company and the founders had enough. They liquidate the company and retired.

A side note is the guys who founded Hussmann worked there. This company still exists and is one of the largest makers of food display cases.

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My great grandfather owned a Brecht steam car in Hawera, New Zealand. It was assembled by Mr A.W. Reid of Stratford who assembled 4 steam cars around 1903. I have a photo of the car and have the steering column and steering wheel. He only had the car for a few years before he bought a 1905 Darracq (which we still have). He dismantled the Brecht and used the chassis for a trailer to tow behind the Darracq.

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A photo of the Brecht steering wheel etc. I found this in my grand parents loft above the stable. My father could remember playing with this as a child but didn't know how it came to be there. It was in the rafters, I didn't get it down to have a look at it until some time after dad died. Certainly wasn't expecting it to be from the steam car. Just fortunate that our family aren't too good at throwing stuff away. Dad said that the engine was taken to drive a water pump. He made enquiries as to its whereabouts but with no luck. post-98737-143142359977_thumb.jpg

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Here are two photos of Mr A.W. Reid's cars. wether it is the same car with a different body or the same car I don't know. He did make changes to the body of his car. The photo of the car with two people sitting in it is from a book "New Zealand on the move" by Mathew Wright. The other photo is from Puke Ariki museum New Plymouth.post-98737-143142362503_thumb.jpg

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Hello, richard

my name is Buz Heuchan. My mother was Florence Von Brecht, her father was Charles Von Brecht, his, Gustav.

i did some research on the Brecht automobile some years ago, but you are far ahead of where I was. Thank you.

we have a son ( now 44 ) named Brecht William Heuchan & another son named Charles Von Brecht Heuchan Ii .

Would love to hear if you are able to learn more.

can you tell me your parents, grandparents ?

Regards - Buz

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I have a Borbein Auto Co. parts catalogue and a Confidential Discount Sheet Applying to our Catalogue No. 9 sheet.  Also   have a stack of The Motor World trade papers dating from 1909 . Is there a way to find out their value and if they a rare ,cannot find much information on google

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Rick, believe your catalog may be an aftermarket parts and accessory catalog.  The Motor World I thought was a magazine.  Please post some photographs.  They all certainly have value but much depends on the condition.

Thanks,

Terry

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In response to your original inquiry about the steamer. I have done quite a bit of research regarding these early steamers and have ran across the Brecht several times and am unaware of any surviving examples.

 

I can add this: All of these early steam carriages including the Stanley were built on the Whitney Motorette design. George Whitney held the patent on this vehicle design in it's entirety which he transferred to Locomobile. It was applied for in 1897 but not granted until 1900. There were close to 70 different manufacturers that clamored to bring a steam vehicle of this design to market either unknowingly or disregarding the patent applied for by Whitney. When the patent was granted it was at that time held by the Locomobile Company which some of these early steamers were an almost exact copy of. They immediately issued cease and desist orders to companies that were building on their now licensed design. That is likely why Brecht like all the others dropped that steamer design in 1902. Locomobile licensed a few others like Mobile to continue building for steep royalties. Some closed up shop, most of them simply changed their design to another steamer and the majority started building "gas engine" cars.

 

Stanley only held a few patents on the early steam carriage (wire wound boiler and a few other items) that they sold to Locomobile, Whitney applied for the patent for the whole vehicle which he originally built in 1896. Locomobile sold all of their steam car patents to Stanley in 1904. The Stanley's originally only built 2 or 3 "rather crude" cars in 1897 that were exact copies of the Whitney which they took orders for 200. Locomobile stepped in and purchased their automobile business parts and orders for 200 cars, originally named it the Automobile Company of America, that name was already taken so they named it Locomobile Company of America.

 

-Ron

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scan0003.thumb.jpg.1b430781653eb832606669d88738d1be.jpg      this is one of the Motor World booksscan0004.thumb.jpg.eae46d0b139bdd8b4d34efd6180018e2.jpg  This is another one of the books . 

   

These came from Thomas Spiker's   car dealership that was in Hanna North Dakota. in the early 1900 s  He moved to Pennant Sask and farmed there. These were stored in the garage at the farm until it was sold about 12 years ago.

 

 

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The Motor World was one of many automotive publications printed over the years.  It seems to have had a long run beginning in the early 1900s.  Your 1911 example seems to be in good condition based on the limited view in the photo, but a better look-see would be essential to valuing it.  Condition means everything for these early periodicals.  The older they are the more difficult they seem to be to find in good condition.  By the teens, the popularity of motoring had increased dramatically from the early 1900s, and the number of publications was simply astounding, both here and overseas.   They carried motoring news, interesting ads, and the latest technical info.  You'll find reports from early motoring events, detail of the newest cars at big auto shows, etc.  They make interesting reading, and they are collectible.  That said, interest has died off recently as so much information is available on the internet, so as far as actual content goes, they are not as valuable as you would assume.  The same information is in many other sources and a lot of libraries have good collections of these, some digitally scanned so they can be used for research without handing the brittle originals.   Some of these publications were issued weekly, some monthly, and I'm not sure of the frequency of yours.  Often those issued that frequently printed the same advertising and the same covers for a number of issues, making them less interesting.  

 

Without knowing the quantity you have it's difficult to venture a guess on value as a lot.  In my opinion, individually they may be worth anywhere from $15-$30 depending on condition and how you attempt to sell them.  A literature dealer of course would pay much less, especially for a quantity.

 

As far as periodicals go, Motor Magazine holds top spot in desirability.  They are thick, well printed and the cover artwork is amazing.  They are by far the most valuable.   Horseless Age would be next.  It's not as exciting but they seem to be widely collected.  Some others that were more inexpensively produced and less well-known are of course of less interest to collectors.

 

The early accessory catalogs are of interest to me personally as I collect them.  The cover art is interesting but often the content is nearly the same from one company to another.  Condition is everything.  I have some that I've paid as much as $50-60 for, but they are very early 1900s and feature beautiful cover artwork.  The best one I have is brand-new in it's original envelope.  I originally began collecting these because of the information in them about spark plugs.  I collect spark plugs and found the information very helpful in dating some of them. Catalogs from the pre-WWI era are not difficult to find, and ebay often has a number of them available.  Most seem to sell around $35-40 although you'll see some listed with absolutely stupid prices.  Big difference between selling and dreaming of selling.


I've attached a photo of a C.J. Smith catalog from my collection.  It's dated 1913 and as you can see, their catalog covers all had the same sort of theme.


We're way off topic on the Brecht automobile and didn't intend to hijack the discussion, but thought a more detailed reply would be of some help to you.

 

I also sent a short PM to you and hope you find this somewhat helpful.

Terry

C,J. Smith St. Paul Mn 1913.jpg

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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