Everyone would love to collect automobiles. But not too many of us have the money. So why not collect the next best thing, automobilia.
Automobilia includes almost anything related to automobiles including photographs, brochures, advertisements, license plates, old horns, hubcaps and so much more.
Old brass horns and headlights are two of the most highly collected items. Fortunately junkmen used to remove these items before trashing a vehicle but often they were put into a barrel and used for scrap brass.
The horns are very much liked as they are not only interesting but make different noises. Some quack and some beep and others kind of making a blowing sound.
Emblems such as radiator emblems are very collectible. These emblems were on cars from 1910 through World War II. It was usually made of copper or brass with enameled letters.
Other name plates were found fastened to the dashboard, under the hood, or on the side of the car. Rumor has it that junkmen kept these in cigarette boxes to help policeman track down stolen vehicles.
Many people enjoy collecting hubcaps. Hubcaps almost always carried the name of the car and a symbol or design. Early hubcaps were made of brass. When removed from a car, hubcaps were used as wall decorations or in some case paperweights. In the 1930s hubcaps became big pie plates and collectors are not as interested in those.
License plates seem to always have been huge collector items. Cars have had license plates since the start of the 20th century. Back then they were only 3 or 4″ tall. In 1902 numbers were assigned to cars. These were made of porcelain and draw hundreds of dollars.
In 1976 many states issued one year celebratory license plates. Collectors seek those license plates especially unused ones.
Some automobilia items are not even attached to a car. Those include things like road signs, car advertisements, souvenir mugs, car brochures and even jewelry. You may find unusual things as well such as flasks featuring car symbol advertisements, salesman lapel pins and service station signs. Most stations signs were steel and rusted easily but it is easy to find reproductions.
Automobile art is a very expensive hobby. Originals are very hard to find and cost hundreds of dollars. Again, reproductions are easy to find as lots of people enjoy painting cars. A few big name automobile artists include Edouard Montaut, F. Gordon Crosby, Peter Helck and Leslie Saalburg.
One of the easiest automobile art to find is magazine advertisements. They are usually inexpensive and easy to find at most flea markets and often tag sales. They do have interesting information and is a nice place for a starting collector to begin.
The most sought after of all printed automobile paraphernalia is brochures. Many were given away at car shows and to prospective buyers. Early ones from the 1930 can be worth more than $100. Instruction books and manuals are also of great interest. If you are lucky sometimes you can find a car salesman’s book. Most are pocket sized and full of information of possible customers.
A variety of handbooks are also available. Some of the most collected include the Hand Book of Gasoline Automobiles from 1904 by the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers; the 1929 Hand Book of Automobiles by the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce; and Motor Directory of Motor Cars by Motor Magazine undated believed to be early or pre-1900.
Magazines such as “Motocycle” and The Horseless Age, which began in 1895 are very much sough after by collectors.
Several other automobilia collector items include programs of auto races, car letter openers, patches, souvenir plates, pennants, tokens, display signs, keychains, decals, trophies, wall clocks, wristwatches, banks and pins.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Collectibles