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Found:  First Prize trophy from the Empire City Meet Race at Yonkers,N.Y May31, 1903.  The winning car was a 35 h.p Panhard belonging to J.Insley Blair and driven by Joseph Tracy. Bonhams Auction house claims there is only 1 known example of this car to exist pre-1905. They sold that car in 1997 for approximately $570,000. I'm looking for anyone with information about this trophy or car. Thank You

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Edited by Vins 32
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The local Newspaper would have covered the race........in the sports section. Contact the Yonkers Historical Society to get the names of the papers back then, also, a city directory would list dealers names.......where the cars would have been parked and serviced.....so searching them out would also be a good idea. Racemaker Press in Boston would know the New England race experts and could help you contact them. 

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It’s much too neat to have just been found.......early trophies like this go for fairly big numbers. The more famous the race, or the cars in it......the higher it will go. I wouldn’t clean it at all.......leave it exactly as it is. You will ruin half the value polishing it.

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17 hours ago, edinmass said:

It’s much too neat to have just been found.......early trophies like this go for fairly big numbers. The more famous the race, or the cars in it......the higher it will go. I wouldn’t clean it at all.......leave it exactly as it is. You will ruin half the value polishing it.

 

30 years ago my dad polished my mom's Tiffany lamp.  She almost lost her mind.   Now the Patina is completely back again.

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Yes, but in this case, the trophy appears to be silver plate and the silver just got polished off. You can see the copper shining through. Something like this would have two or three value points. It would have one value for silver content. If it is silver plate, that would be nominal. As a vintage race car trophy, it would have a second price point, which would be affected by the attempt to polish it, though I would think nominally. Then as an antique, the attempt to polish it would affect the value greatly. Remember, silver tarnishes to a black but copper goes green. So even though the item will tarnish again, it will never be the same.

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One of the problems with silver is that tarnish is oxidation...basically, it's the rust of precious metals and if it isn't removed it will cause the surface to deteriorate even further. We have a similar problem with 18th century silver-hilted swords...you don't want to over polish them but they have to be kept clean. I'm not sure how this trophy should be treated but it probably should be lightly cleaned and then waxed. Wax is commonly used in the museum world - you can by the expensive "museum quality" Renaissance Wax or just use shoe polish (as does one of the most famous museums in the world on their armor). Wax is inert and easily removed without damaging the surface. Under no circumstances should it be lacquered (as is commonly done with brass lights)...the idea is to do nothing that cannot be easily reversed.

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It was found in New Jersey in an old horse stable that was converted into a garage. An antique dealer that went out of business in the 1980's rented the top floor of the garage for storage. The antiques became the property of the owner after the dealer passed. I was fortunate enough to be the first one to sift through everything. I did use a cream metal cleaner on only the inscripted area over 18 months ago with no adverse effects.. It looks to be made from silver.  I contacted Bonham's about the car, but they have not located it since it was sold in 2007

Edited by Vins 32
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08-06-2007-17-08-40-828_edited-4aaaaa.jpg

1904 Panhard in 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race. I see two restored examples on the internet. They could be the same car but one is painted red the other a light blue. It is just me, but I never trust the statement, "There is only one example," or, "This is the only one left." There are a lot of secretive people with barns and buildings full of stuff that will not be advertised. This trophy is a great example. Until now, it was thought to be lost. Great find, by the way.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, AHa said:

I'm not sure what this one is. It has the look of a Panhard but was labeled Reo.

 

1906 REO MODEL B 8 HP RUNABOUT

 

A great example of why the internet is an unreliable source of information...I don't think anyone who actually knew anything about brass-era REOs would say that but there is no one to vet internet descriptions and to someone who knows nothing, it's often the loudest (and most ignorant) voice that is taken seriously,

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Ah - things found in barns - amazing! 

 

In my opinion, the trophy would benefit from a professional restoration.  There will be "hallmarks" on it somewhere, perhaps up inside the base.  That will determine whether it's solid silver or silver plate.  There will also be marks indicating the maker and date.  All of those would be important to determining how it should be cleaned or restored. 

 

A simple wash with Wright's silver cream would do wonders and would be the first step to evaluating it's overall condition.  That would help reveal any spots where silver plating might have worn off.  It does not look like it's ever been lacquered so there should be nothing to strip. 

 

How much work and money you wish to put into it depends on what you want to do with it.  If you plan to sell it, perhaps just leave it alone and let the new owner decide what to do. 

 

Here iare a few photos of a trophy in my automobilia collection that will get a professional touch.  It had been lacquered and a large percentage of it has been removed through polishing over time.  Where the lacquer was removed, simple silver polish reveals its potential.  It's a large heavy piece and over the years, it's suffered a few dings and scrapes that will need a professional touch.  It'll remain in my collection so I'm not concerned about the cost of  getting it restored properly.

Terry

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These are both very nice trophies. I would love to happen across one I could afford. To the original poster, if the trophy is for sale, there is a much wider audience than the owner of a 1903 35 horse Panhard et Levasser. Silver plate or not, it has value as an early car race trophy.

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Just for fun, here's a picture  of a 10hp Franklin that won a five mile race at the Empire Trotters Club in 1903. This race was held in Yonkers, NY.

1904-Sep, Lyons, NY, Carris and Whitman - driver, Franklin Race

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Do you know a reputable appraiser who could help with what mine could be worth? I feel it's difficult to compare one to another because they are all unique in their own way

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I don't know any appraisers. That being said, I can tell you the founders day race is a well known event and was won by a Locomobile, as shown on the front of the trophy. That Locomobile had a famous driver. The Empire race is a more obscure race and Panhard et Lavasser cars do not have a strong following in the US, while Locomobile does among wealthy people. My guess is your trophy is worth considerably less. A big auction house would do a fair amount of marketing to hype both the race and the cars that ran in it. Their efforts could raise the sales price considerably. This is the reason on shows like antiques road show, the appraiser will give a low number for retail value and the auction estimate is usually higher and inevitably includes a huge spread. The insurance estimate is always higher. It has been 11 years since the trophy above sold at auction, so I would put an auction estimate of between $50 and $120 thousand and I would insure it for $200 thousand. Retail could be as low as $300.00 and go as high as $5-10,000.

 

It really depends on who wants it and how much they are willing to pay. In one of the big auction houses, with several collectors interested who were invested in Tesla stocks and flush with cash, it will go high. I would give you $250 today for my shelf. If it were to sale, a basis point would be established, making it easier to appraise value. Today, it is a great trophy from a rather obscure early car race won by a foreign car. That does not translate to much value. If it is proven to be silver, instead of silver plate, and made by a well known silversmith, that pushes the value up some.

 

That's my two cents.

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4 hours ago, Vins 32 said:

Do you know a reputable appraiser who could help with what mine could be worth? I feel it's difficult to compare one to another because they are all unique in their own way

 

Try Jerry Littieri at www.automobiliaauctions.com

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7 minutes ago, A. Ballard 35R said:

 

Try Jerry Littieri at www.automobiliaauctions.com

 

I would either consign it to Jerry or put it on eBay with a great description and link to the auction from here and HCS site.

 

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An appraisal by most good appraisers is going to cost you. If you took some time to search the internet for sold automobile trophies you should be able to get a good idea of value. Also, any good reputable jeweler can tell you if it is silver or silver plate and can check the makers mark on the bottom. These two steps will get you pretty far. Add a good 25% to the value you come up with for insurance.

 

The copper color revealed by the photo after polishing is concerning to me and would be to any serious party. That trophy appears heavy, too heavy to be sterling silver for a race like the Empire track might put on. Now, sometimes wealthy benefactors bought trophies for races in an effort to promote the races and the sales, marketing that followed, so it would not be unheard of. I would take it to a Jeweler first to find out what it is you have. If you're not going to sell it, just insure it for $150,000 and be done with it. Its best not to advertise ownership of something like this too much, unless you are selling. It invites crooks to attempt theft.

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  • 1 month later...

I have several racing trophys, including a number of Mercer ones. I just looked and I see

that I also have a trophy from the Empire City track from July 25, 1903. The winner was a

40 hp Am Darracq.  I will attach a photo.

trophy.JPG

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Wow, there certainly have been some big $numbers tossed out there!  

Trophies are difficult to judge.  Here's my thoughts on them -

 

I'd suggest there are a few things to consider when evaluating them: 

 

Significance, artistic merit and quality.  All of these must be taken into consideration when evaluating a trophy.

 

At the top of the heap are trophies for important historic events that were awarded to specific historic vehicles.  Many of those trophies are literally works of art rather than mere engraved cups.  They will have been specifically designed for that event and will incorporate things like spoke wheels with wings on them, gas headlamps, or even cars themselves.  The Founders week trophy pictured is a great example. Trophies for specific popular and important vehicles like the Mercer posted above will also be in demand for owners of the cars.  I have a good friend who not long ago acquired a trophy awarded to an EMF like the car in his collection.  It was not terribly expensive and came from a well-known dealer of quality automobilia.   Anytime you get an actual vehicle embossed or engraved onto the trophy though it does increase the value considerably. 

 

Quality of production is an important factor.  For example, the trophy I posted a photo of is nice, but only the wording is hand-engraved.  The motoring/racing scenes wrapped all around the cup are a silver applique, artfully applied so it looks like engraving rather than actual engraving.  There are other similar trophies existing and one resides in the club trophy case of the Antique Automobile Club of America at their new Headquarters in Hershey PA.  There are many other fantastic early trophies displayed there as well.

 

I'm sure that if the Vanderbilt cup won by Old Number 16 ever came up for auction it would set records.  Not only is Vanderbilt Cup material hotly collected, Locomobile racing material is among the more desirable, and that car is perhaps the most significant early racer still around in this country, other than perhaps the Thomas Flyer from the NY-Paris event in 1908.  That Vanderbilt victory was also the first victory for an American made car in the Vanderbilt races.

 

There is however a vast difference between that kind of trophy and something from a more obscure event won by a driver not commonly known.   Connecting the trophy to one of the greats in motoring/racing history is another bonus.  The trophy in question was won by Joe Tracy, who was a well known driver in early Vanderbilt Cup and Gordon Bennett Cup races.  He drove Locomobiles in the early Vanderbilt cup events, however his career was short - he retired in 1906.  The trophy itself is relatively plain, even though it is styled like many other similar trophies of the era.  It's pretty, and the engraving is impressive, so as a collectors item, yes, it's valuable, but I'd suggest its value would be around $1200 based on its connection to Tracy.  Now if you can determine that the original winning car exists, and the owner has to have it, perhaps more. 

 

It's important to look at comparable items and actual sales results.  I've not undertaken a through search,  I'm only scratching my brain to recall what I'd seen previously with early trophies.  Past auction results are going to be the best guide for determining value, but even those need to be considered in view of the many intangibles that might impact the sales price.

 

As an example of what can happen with trophies, it's not been that long ago that a group of trophies once won by the famed lady driver Joan Cuneo came up for auction.  (I did a seminar on Joan and her driving career at the AACA Annual Convention in Philadelphia a couple of years ago).  The trophies had been inherited by her family and were offered at auction. 

https://www.oldcarsweekly.com/news/race-pioneer-joan-newton-cuneos-trophies-sold

 

There was a lot of media coverage about these trophies.  Beautifully engraved, significant history, and thrilling well-documented stories about her career behind the wheel.  The best of them was the silver 1908 Glidden Tour plaque that even had her car depicted on it.  However-expectations were quite high for their value, in fact the opening minimum bid acceptable on the Glidden Tour plaque was $20,000.  The trophies failed to reach their minimum reserves and were withdrawn. 

 

Not long ago I posted a question here on the forum about them, wondering if they remained with the family or had subsequently been sold privately, but there was no response to those questions.

 

As collector's items, trophies are fantastic, but most are worth less than you'd imagine.  Just my $10-worth.

Happy collecting and remember - three makes a collection. So, go find two more and put them on display in your own personal motoring memorabilia museum.

Terry

 

 

 

 

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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