As luxury items that were owned only by the wealthy, early automobiles were imbued with luxurious detail. Gorgeous woods, velvet, leather, and other embellishments boasted of the owner's achievements and refined tastes.
Signature items, like the manufacturer's logo, fought for instant recognition that would bring luxury and quality to the forefront of the viewer's mind. Beautifully designed manufacturer's nameplates could be found almost anywhere on the car but almost always found on the radiator shell.
Unique to every maker, radiator badges, or emblems, were most often made with an enameling process called champlevé. A metal base, containing recessed areas for color and the raised metal lines between the cutout areas forming the design outline, were then enameled by coating it in porcelain or glass. Chrome plating finished off the look.
The pictured Bay State emblem is part of the collection located at the National Museum of American History which is part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. It was donated at the museum's opening in 1964 by Hubert G. Larson, a enthusiastic radiator collector who donated a total of 248 emblems from the early years of U.S. auto manufacturing.
The Bay State's heart shape emblem signifies Richard H. Long's commitment to his community. Wanting to build an automobile "made in Massachusetts for New Englanders", Mr. Long's interest in keeping his business in his home state was well documented.
Read more about the significance of radiator emblems at: Smithsonian Spotlight
'Flashback!' blog posts will feature an article reprinted from one of the previous issues of the Long Automotive Group newsletters or other sources as noted