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White steam automobile

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White steam automobile
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 38,419-A


This object appears in the following sections:

Making Sense of "Failed" Car Technology — Not so Famous Makes

Smithsonian Automobile Collection — Car collection, 1900-1909

White steam automobile engine

White steam automobile
Catalog #: 309,497, Accession #: 101,849
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

Thomas H. White founded the White Sewing Machine Company in Massachussets in 1858, but he moved it to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1866. The company produced a lot more than sewing machines and cars: in 1901, it also made bicycles, roller skates, phonographs, screw machines, and kerosene lamps, among other things. Thomas's sons Rollin, Windsor, and Walter were all auto enthusiasts, and they helped get the company into the automobile manufacturing. The company began making steam-powered automobiles in 1900. White Steamers were a popular brand of steam car, and Cleveland became a center of early American automobile production. Other manufacturers in the city included the Winton Motor Car Company, the Cleveland Motor Car Company, and the Peerless Motor Car Company.

In November 1906, the automaking part of the business split off into a separate company, named the White Company. After 1911, the company stopped making Steamers and focused on producing gasoline-driven engines. Over the course of their steam-making career, the company produced 9,122 White Steamers. In 1918, the company stopped making cars (except if they were specially ordered) and concentrated on making trucks. It still makes trucks and buses.

Physical Description
This open-bodied automobile has one seat for two people and a hinged body top. There is a two-cylinder steam engine beneath the seat. A nameplate on the rear of the body is marked “White Sewing Machine Co., Cleveland, Ohio, [numerous patent dates] No. 260"
Date Made:
Gift of the White Company, Cleveland, Ohio

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