Jump to content

identifying a classic from a period photo


Steve Elman
 Share

Recommended Posts

Does anyone in the club have enough knowledge about classics to identify a car from 1906 - 1910 from a period photo? My grandfather was a chauffeur for a bigwig in his early years, and I would love to know the make of the car he's driving in the one photo we have from that era. Here he is at the wheel. I see that the steering wheel is on the right. Does that suggest a non-American car? Or could the photo be reversed?

Many thanks, all.

 

Steve

 

image.png.f2121efde55579c69baf9aaa53ef3c08.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Except for model T Fords, MOST cars in America and around the world before 1912 were driven from the right side of the car. Reasons have to do with traditions going back hundreds of years. There were of course many exceptions and for a variety of reasons. As motorcars became more plentiful in America, on the poor roads of the day, it became more desirable for the driver to be on the left side of the car when passing cars going the opposite direction. This due to the USA driving on the right side of the road as opposed to left like most other countries around the world did. Again, many exceptions to the usual. There never was any legal requirement for automobiles to be driven from a specific side in this country (some other countries DID have laws requiring right hand driven!). Many manufacturers continued with right-hand driven for several years beyond 1912. Several well into the early 1920s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, wayne sheldon said:

This due to the USA driving on the right side of the road as opposed to left like most other countries around the world did.

 

Was that also true in the horse and buggy days in the USA? If you met another horse drawn vehicle was it the custom to stay to the right so they would pass you to your left?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Bloo said:

Was that also true in the horse and buggy days in the USA? If you met another horse drawn vehicle was it the custom to stay to the right so they would pass you to your left?

I have always wondered about the "rules of the road" during the horse drawn age. I have looked and never found any.

Could you make a U-turn in the middle of the block? 

Did you have to make a full stop at an intersection?

Speeding?  Drunk driving? Asleep at the reins?

 

40 years ago a 100 year old man told me that on weekends him and his girl would attend two dances one Friday night and one Saturday night. They were 60 miles apart. They would dance Friday night until about dawn then drive the horse and buggy to the next town 60 miles away. He said that they would (kinda) sleep on the ride because the horse knew the way. Sometimes they were both asleep and woke up when they were no longer moving, the horse had stopped to graze or water. They would then get the rig back on the road and doze off again. Eventually making it to the Saturday evening dance on time. 

 

I think that there is more to using the inherent intelligence of the animal while "driving" than has been recorded in history. Example: Is it possible for two horse drawn wagons to have a head on collision? Can you force animals to run into each other? I dont think it would be possible. 

 

I suspect the lack of rules for horses carried over to automobiles for longer than we typically discuss.

In my research most serious automobile rules (Statewide traffic laws and code books) didn't happen until the mid twenties. Latter than I would have thought. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The custom of horses driving or being ridden on the left side of the road goes way back to ancient Roman days (and maybe even earlier?). It had to do with the right hand typically being the sword hand and the left hand being the shield hand. Traveling on the left side of the road put the shield on the outer side leaving the right side somewhat exposed. This supposedly conveyed a bit of trust, and left the right hand (battle hand) exposed but ready if needed (maybe?). This custom continued for many centuries.

Legend has it (and this has been debated and sometimes denounced by historians!) that when the American colonies rebelled against England in the latter half of the 18th century, that the American rebels switched the colonies over to traveling on the right side of the road. Some have said this was as a political denouncement against English rule, a way of saying "We are no longer doing things your way!" Other historians have said the switch to the right side of the road was to confound incoming British sympathizers or troops and make them a bit more recognizable by the side of the road they favored (I am not sure how well that would have worked? But people do strange things for silly reasons?).

 

Many towns and especially large cities did have rules or laws governing the proper ways to drive a horse and carriage. Simply "not driving a horse in a reckless manor" was a common rule. And many towns did have speed limits within town limits. However, the slow pace of life in most places made such rules mostly unnecessary. Streets in many towns were wide enough to turn a horse and carriage around. In many other places they were not. Many horses, carriages, and people were basically not able to back up more than a couple feet. So parking usually had to allow for pulling out forward. Some era photos of crowded cities make one wonder how people sometimes managed that!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many, many thanks to you all for the fascinating comments. It may interest you to know that the car in the photo was probably owned by Colonel Nathan Patchen Pond of Rochester NY. Col. Pond was a Civil War vet, and among other accomplishments, he was commander of the First and Second Colored Infantries. My grandfather Eddie Stauder was a motorhead from his youth - a crack bicycle racer at the turn of the century - and we know that he drove for Col. Pond for at least a year and maybe more between 1908 and 1910. Eddie subsequently got a "real job," but his passion for vehicles never waned - he became a well-known motorcycle racer into the 1920s, and was known locally as the "Speed King." In one event, he was promoted as a "human catapault."  The Indian "Motocycle" (without the R) was his bike of choice. Again, I deeply appreciate your many comments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Bloo said:

 

Was that also true in the horse and buggy days in the USA? If you met another horse drawn vehicle was it the custom to stay to the right so they would pass you to your left?

It is my understanding that it varied from state to state and wasn’t standardized until after the automobile era began. I believe the New England states were generally keeping to the left while the mid-Atlantic and western states were generally keeping to the right.

 

One legend/hypothesis is that left vs right side of road depended on the coaching and/or freight traditions. If the driver rode on the coach (English style) then it made sense for them to sit on the right side of the carriage so that the whip had a wide range of motion. If the driver rode on the rear horse (French or continental tradition) or walked along side the freight wagon (early Conestoga) then they wanted to be on the left of the vehicle so they could reach each horse/ox with the whip. Once you got the driver position settled then it made sense to have the driver toward the middle of the road, so right hand drive meant being on the left side of the road, etc.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There certainly were traffic rules before automobiles. It was up to each state and locality. I know of a rule book for a local cemetery that forbid horses from being driven at more than a staid walk. it was written in the 1880's.

 As for backing up horses.. a good teamster could back a wagon into an unloading bay. I live in the midst of an Amish community and I see them do it all the time. I also worked with horses growing up on the farm and we often would back a team up. Tales a little persuasion but a well mannered team will do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, m-mman said:

I have always wondered about the "rules of the road" during the horse drawn age. I have looked and never found any.

Could you make a U-turn in the middle of the block? 

Did you have to make a full stop at an intersection?

Speeding?  Drunk driving? Asleep at the reins?

 

40 years ago a 100 year old man told me that on weekends him and his girl would attend two dances one Friday night and one Saturday night. They were 60 miles apart. They would dance Friday night until about dawn then drive the horse and buggy to the next town 60 miles away. He said that they would (kinda) sleep on the ride because the horse knew the way. Sometimes they were both asleep and woke up when they were no longer moving, the horse had stopped to graze or water. They would then get the rig back on the road and doze off again. Eventually making it to the Saturday evening dance on time. 

 

I think that there is more to using the inherent intelligence of the animal while "driving" than has been recorded in history. Example: Is it possible for two horse drawn wagons to have a head on collision? Can you force animals to run into each other? I dont think it would be possible. 

 

I suspect the lack of rules for horses carried over to automobiles for longer than we typically discuss.

In my research most serious automobile rules (Statewide traffic laws and code books) didn't happen until the mid twenties. Latter than I would have thought. 

I guess that was early "cruise control" huh?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...