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Meeting the Market

1900 New York, New York Auto Show

The first National Auto Show, referred to as the “horseless horse show” was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 3, 1900. The show, which featured 66 exhibitors displaying 31 automobiles, cost visitors 50 cents to attend. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online)

 

At the turn of the 20th century, the automotive industry was still in its infancy, with U.S. manufacturers selling about 4,000 automobiles to a population of 76 million. Hundreds of car companies emerged, some started by those with engineering backgrounds, but many, such as the Stanley twins, acquired the skills they needed through trial and error.

Three automotive technologies vied for dominance: steam, internal combustion and electricity. Car companies faced competition not only from manufacturers using the same technology, such as the Stanley steam car versus the White steamer, but also from makers marketing similar models that employed different motive power, such as the Stanley Model EX against Ford’s Model T. It would take years and innovations, such as Henry Ford’s assembly line, before the internal combustion engine dominated the industry.

 

T. Clarence Marshall, 1915

Clarence Marshall, ca. 1915. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

Marshall Connection
Delaware’s Stanley Agent

In 1910, Clarence Marshall became a Stanley agent, the first for northern Delaware and Chester County, Pennsylvania. He sold more than 50 Stanleys, also providing spare parts and making repairs on customer cars for nearly a decade. While a Stanley agent, Clarence met the Stanley twins; however, because the brothers dressed alike and never identified themselves, he was never sure if he met both of the twins once or one of them twice!

 

Billhead listing repairs by Clarence Marshall for John Benge, 1913–14

Billhead listing repairs by Clarence Marshall for John Benge, 1913–14. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)