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Chalmers Motor Company radiator emblem

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Chalmers Motor Company radiator emblem
Smithsonian Institution

Women repairing a Chalmer's vehicle

Woman changing a tire

Chrysler radiator emblem

Chalmers Motor Company radiator emblem
Catalog #: 325,528, Accession #: 260,303
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
In 1907 Hugh Chalmers, the president of the National Cash Register Company, became a partner in a firm producing the Thomas-Detroit automobile. Within a year, Chalmers had bought half of E.R. Thomas's stock and became president of the company, which he renamed the Chalmers-Detroit Motor Company. Chalmers produced very popular cars, with production rates hitting 20,000 units in 1915, but by the 1920s the auto industry was facing financial difficulties due to over-expansion and recession. In 1922 Chalmers was taken over by Maxwell, a former competitor that had become a Chrysler subsidiary.
Physical Description

Dimensions (in mm): 7.2 L x 7.2 W x .3 D

Inscriptions: CHALMERS MOTOR CO CMC Detroit, Mich., U.S.A. 1910

Materials: metal

Colors: blue, white, silver

Dates Used:
1908 - 1924
Detroit, Michigan
Gift of Hubert G. Larson
Radiator emblems were colorful metal plates with a manufacturer's name or logo that attached to the radiators of early automobiles. Varying in shape and size, but never more than a few inches across, the emblems were small branding devices. As vehicles became more popular in a national market, people began associating the company name and logo on different vehicle models with a specific manufacturer. Radiator emblems sometimes indicated the type of engine or place of manufacturing. Other times they appealed directly to a driver's sense of style and class by using iconic images or a catchy motto.
Related People, Places, and Events
Hubert G. Larson
In 1964 Hubert G. Larson donated a collection of 278 radiator emblems to the Smithsonian.

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