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Cadillac radiator emblem

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Cadillac radiator emblem
Smithsonian Institution


This object appears in the following sections:

Work and Industry
What is an emblem? — Without words

Olds Motor Works radiator emblem

Cadillac radiator emblem
Catalog #: 325,528, Accession #: 260,303
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
The Cadillac Automobile Company adopted Antoine de la Moth Cadillac's coat of arms as a symbol of their auto in 1905, and registered it as a trademark in 1906. Cadillac, the man, was a French explorer and is credited with founding Detroit. By using a coat of arms, the company suggested their car was connected to luxury, elegance, and an aristocratic tradition. According to information in Maurice D. Hendry's Cadillac, Standard of the World: A Complete History, this particular version of the Cadillac logo was used between 1920 and 1925.
Physical Description

Dimensions (in mm): 6.8 L x 6.8 W x 1.0 D. The emblem shows an image of coat of arms. The emblem is made of metal. Colors: red, white, black, gold, silver.

Dates Used:
1903 - present
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.

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