Post Cards from the Past

John Davidson Collection

Content Tools

In addition to a collection of gas engines, engine man and GEM regular John Davidson has also amassed an interesting collection of literature related to old iron. Among the items in John's collection are old post cards featuring gas engines, such as the ones shown here.

Vexingly, few of the cards have any identification, leading to more than a little head scratching when it comes to figuring out engine identities some 100 years later.

Take, for instance, the post card on this page. On the back it says simply 'Post Card,' with corresponding spaces for the sender's notes, the receiver's address and the necessary postage stamp for mailing. That's it. No printer's mark, no copyright' note, nothing.

This obviously huge engine was clearly no featherweight, as evidenced by the team of eight horses pulling it through surrounding hilly country to some unknown site. The distinctive-looking crank guard surely provides some clue to the engine's origin, and a close look reveals the engine's enormous crankshaft with its throw at 12 o'clock, the connecting rod's huge end cap clearly visible.

The engine on the following page presents a similar mystery. The back of the post card for this engine is as with the first; blank except for the afore-mentioned spaces. And with the exception of the barely visible number '2' stamped into the front right leg of the engine frame, no markings are to be found on this single-cylinder, side crank engine.

To some measure this engine looks built up, a crude special of some sort, but it was evidently working for a living, as suggested by the wagon load of corn standing behind it.

As to the last post card, while the engine is identified, not that much seems to be known about its maker. According to John's research, this four-cylinder, four-cycle Pearl marine engine was made about 1911 by A.A. Oriniskee & Co., Tauton, Mass. John says the firm was also known as the Eastern house Engine Co.

John's research indicates two sizes of this engine were made, a 40-50 HP and a 24-30 HP, both with high-tension ignition, a feature evident in the post card photograph shown here.

While these post cards are hardly unusual for their time, for present-day collectors they present interesting challenges in detective work and identification. If anyone knows more, we'd like to hear from them.

Contact engine enthusiast John Davidson at: 8250 200th Ave., Bristol, W1 53104.