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Olds Motor Works radiator emblem
Catalog #: 325,528, Accession #: 260,303
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Ransom Eli Olds began the Olds Motor Works in 1891 when he built a three wheeled, steam powered car. He also experimented with electric vehicles before building the Curved Dash Runabout, the first mass produced vehicle. In 1904 Ransom Olds left the company to found REO. Oldsmobile is one of the few companies whose history spans the initial experimental period of automobile manufacturing up through recent production.
Physical Description

Dimensions (in mm): 6.9 L x 4.2 W x .3

Inscriptions: OLDS MOTOR WORKS OLDSMOBILE LANSING, MICH U.S.A

Materials: metal

Colors: red, white, blue, silver

Details
Dates Used:
1896 - present
Locations:
Michigan
Note:
Lansing, Michigan
Credit:
Gift of Hubert G. Larson
History
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
Donor
Hubert G. Larson
In 1964 Hubert G. Larson donated a collection of 278 radiator emblems to the Smithsonian.


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