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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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October 2003 Issue
 
PICK-OF-THE-MONTH
 
Rolls-Royce Automobiles and Literature
By Sharon McLellan
 

It is a beautiful spring day many years ago and I am off on one of the adventures of my life — my first ride in a Rolls-Royce — in fact, my first ride in a vintage automobile — a beautiful vintage 1924 Silver Ghost.

Rob and I are not yet married and he wants to introduce me to a lifestyle of which I had never even dreamed. And I truly felt like royalty as I stepped into the open touring car.

And then the rains came... and came... and came... Have you ever ridden in the back seat of an open touring car with no side curtains? When we arrived at our destination and I crawled out of the car I must have looked liked a drowned rat. But I managed a smile and the driver, Everett Pauls, a past President of the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, now deceased, said to Rob, "She's a keeper!"

Click for larger view

When I look at literature such as the 1928 Rolls-Royce sales brochure shown at the left it is easy not only to remember that day, but I can also envision a time long ago when this was the mode of travel for stylish women.

The lavish maroon catalog has raised gold lettering, a royal "by appointment" [of the Queen] emblem and white linen binding — really more of a hardbound book than a brochure.

Click for larger view

Though the cars shown are 40/50 H.P. Phantom models and were produced four years after the Silver Ghost, the styling shown here is very similar to the car I had the pleasure of touring in. Let your mind wander to 1928. Perhaps you are attending a lavish ball. The chauffeur drives the car to your front door and you escort your fiancee or wife to the car. You are dressed in a black tuxedo and the lady is in a long full gown of silk and lace.

 
"NOTE: Photos are of plates only. Brochure is 10"x12" and has 40 pages.
Click for larger view
 

Or perhaps you would choose another style car from your stable for this special evening. Perhaps it is a Phantom Enclosed Limousine, Enclosed Landaulette, Sedanca or Cabriolet deVille. In any event, it is made to carry six passengers and you probably instruct the chauffeur to stop at one or two friends homes on the way to the ball. Then your entourage arrives "fashionably" late so that the ladies gowns can be admired as they make their entrance.

What makes sales literature popular and collectible? Is it just the art and information? No, though these are certainly important factors. It is collectible because it takes us back to a time and place that we can never experience firsthand. Literature gives us a vicarious glimpse into the glamour that could have been ours if we had been fortunate enough to have been born 75 years earlier (complete with corsets for the ladies, no air-conditioning, chamber pots — and rainstorms!).

 
The Automotive Chronicles, October 2003
 
 
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