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Owen Magnetic radiator emblem

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Owen Magnetic radiator emblem
Smithsonian Institution


This object appears in the following sections:

Work and Industry
What is an emblem? — Is it electric?

Owen Magnetic radiator emblem
Catalog #: 325,528, Accession #: 260303
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
In 1915 Ray Owen adapted a gearless magnetic transmission from the battleship New Mexico for electric automobiles. An unconventional hybrid, the Owen Magnetic used a gas engine to generate electricity to power the transmission. The electrical transmission was smooth, flexible, and required no gear changing, but it was expensive.
Physical Description

Dimensions (in mm): 6.0 L x 8.5 W x 1.6 D

Inscriptions: OWEN OM MAGNETIC (with lightning bolts)

Materials: metal

Colors: black, white, gold, red

Dates Used:
1915 - 1922
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
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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