HOME Articles index | Media | Use of content | Contact us  

March 2013

Auto Maniacs — The Preservation of Literature

By McLellan's Automotive History

In the February 2013 issue of "Auto Maniacs" I discussed the history of the "Auto Maniacs of America" club of automotive enthusiasts who began an organization dedicated to the "... individuals and groups of people who make a hobby out of the automobile" which evolved into a group which collected literature and bought, sold and traded amongst themselves.

Three factors facilitated this evolution:
1) easy access to literature
2) the need for information
3) the fact that owning literature was less expensive than owning the cars.

Oliver E. Barthel, the first president of "Auto Maniacs", working in conjunction with leaders in the automotive industry, set about to make literature easily accessible to club members. This is illustrated in an early (Sep. 1949) newsletter in which the following items were offered, not for sale, but for the cost of postage:

The Chevrolet Story: Historical booklet on Chevrolet Motor Co., with pictures of old models, etc. Sent with regular Chevrolet car catalog and truck catalog. Brand new. All three books for 12¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $20.00)

"Answer Book on Daring New Dodge". Booklet 5¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $45.00)
Click on thumbnail for description

"Features of Dodge Job Related Trucks". Folder 5¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $45.00)

"Dodge Door to Door Delivery Trucks". Catalog section. 6¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $35.00)

"Studebaker Accessory Catalog". Large catalog of special Studebaker accessories. 9¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $60.00)

Dodge large colored passenger car folder 6¢ postage.
(Currently sells for $75.00)

Many members obtained this literature when it was being offered new, carefully stored it in climate controlled rooms and were later able to sell it for a profit.

In addition, literature was offered to members for joining or renewing their memberships. In Aug. of 1950 members who renewed their memberships were offered "a complete set of costly eight by ten inch glossy photographs, showing a model of every Dodge car built since 1914 through to 1950, about 33 gorgeous sparkling actual photographs of Dodge cars through the years. This set cost $6.00 or TWICE the cost of your dues JUST TO PRODUCE."

And, as the club grew, the literature exchange also grew. In Nov. of 1950 the following items were offered for sale:


1939 Buick catalog $1.50
(Currently sells for $145.00)
Click on thumbnail for larger view

1938 Oldsmobile catalog $2.00
(Currently sells for $120.00)
Click on thumbnail for description

1933 Continental Flyer folder $3.00
(Currently sells for $65.00)
Click on thumbnail for larger view

Of course it is important to remember the value of a dollar in 1950. Rick Lenz, an extraordinary literature collector and charter member of "Auto Maniacs" says:

"When the war ended I found that there would be a new batch of fantastic catalogs every year to enjoy and to keep and to compare. Very soon after World War II ended there was a club composed of people who collected automobile literature called 'Auto Maniacs'. I joined and found that — for a lot of money to me, but comparatively little money — you could get older material as well."

Rick's goal was to collect at least one of every piece of literature that was produced after 1930. His collection eventually comprised over 1,000,000 items of literature, much of it obtained through "Auto Maniacs".

- - - - - - - - - - -

As you can see from price comparisons within this article, literature increases dramatically in value over a 50 year period. Unfortunately, most of us will not have the storage space, expertise in preserving or patience to accumulate literature as an investment for that long. On the other hand, values climb gradually — the 1939 Buick catalog was not $1.50 yesterday and suddenly $145.00 today. That is why we encourage collectors to purchase literature which is already 15-20 years old. It has matured past its time of having little value, but has not yet started to command high prices.

In the February 2013 issue of The "Auto Maniacs" we carried "Auto Maniacs — The History"


Auto Maniacs Newsletter, March 2013



Editor-in-Chief: Mona Nath  ~  Technical Editor: Robert McLellan  ~  Photo Editor: Anil Nath

9111 Longstaff Drive, Houston, TX 77031-2711
Phone: (713) 772-3285 :: E-mail: Editor@McLellansAutomotive.com

Auto Maniacs — 2013