Pre-1900 automotive catalogs

Any collector of historical material will inevitably be asked the question: "What is the oldest thing you own?" Surely, Vinson had this question posed to him more than once. In his "Auto-biography" Vinson wrote about his pre-1900 catalogs -- the "oldest stuff" -- in the "Treasures" section of his unpublished manuscript. This is what he wrote about the oldest catalogs in his collection: 

“I rather think of [pre-1900 catalogues] as the incunabula of automotive literature, and, of late, have taken an interest in them. The French refer to cars of this era as 'Ancetres.' Thus far, the oldest item in my collection is an 1893 Peugeot catalogue on bicycles, the last page of which shows two 'voitures a gasoline.' I have the 1894 version as well. The oldest catalogue devoted purely to cars is a Panhard catalogue dated July 1895. My collection also includes, from 1896, an informative Amedee Bollee folder, an E. Roger folder, and a Panhard catalogue dated December 1896; folders on the Darracq and Gauthier-Wehrle cars from 1897 or so, and a lovely but incomplete 1898 Panhard catalogue and electric auto sheet. In age, these are followed by an American item, the 1898 Barrow, then back to France for the 1899 de Dietrich, Mors, and Delahaye catalogues and a Decauville folder of the same vintage. Just making the 1800s is a Peugeot catalogue dated November 1899."

Cover of the oldest item in Vinson's collection, an 1893 Peuget catalog that included two gasoline powered bicycles among a larger inventory of human powered machines:

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Page from the oldest automobile catalog in Vinson's collection for a French manufactured automobile maker from 1895:

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The earliest American catalog in the collection is from the Barrows Vehicle Company in New York City. They manufactured battery powered automobiles that they described in their sales literature as a "self propelling vehicle." Below is the cover of the 1898 catalog:

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View additional pre-1900 catalogs in the Hagley Digital Archives:


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