20601 Old State Road Haubstadt, Indiana 47639
Over the past several years the Hercules Engine News column has
covered many subjects relating to Hercules, Economy, ARCO, Jaeger
and Thermoil engines. These were all manufactured beginning in
January 1914 by what began as the Hercules Gas Engine Company. The
gas engine company was formed in November, 1912.
The Hercules Gas Engine Company didn’t happen by chance, nor
was it started by a ‘wanta be’ in the engine business. It
was started by the request of people in charge of the Holm Machine
Manufacturing Company of Sparta, Michigan. The Holm Company started
manufacturing Economy engines in 1909 for Sears, Roebuck and
Company. There were certain problems at Sparta that caused Sears,
in early 1912, to search elsewhere for a suitable gas engine
supplier. They contacted William McCurdy, who owned the Hercules
Buggy Company. The buggy company was the major supplier of buggies
that were sold through the Sears mail order catalogs.
The continuing story to begin in the next issue of GEM will go
into detail in regard to the Holm Machine Manufacturing Company and
the models of Economy engines that were built there. These stories
will be entitled ‘The SPARTA ECONOMY ENGINE NEWS’, but
don’t be surprised if a new or interesting Hercules story gets
thrown in once in a while.
Meanwhile, I would like to leave you with a mind-boggier. Back
in the early part of the century, Sears, Roebuck &. Company was
the major retailer in the country and doing it all by mail order.
Their catalogs, issued twice a year, contained 1200 to 1500 pages.
Add to this, periodic sale catalogs. Listed on these pages were
thousands of items. Many of these items came in sizes, styles,
colors and in varying quantities. Add to this hundreds of
suppliers. Then add the thousands of people all over the United
States, then some foreign countries, who were sending mail orders.
Many of these orders were poorly done in one way or another. Items
often had to be back ordered or had been discontinued. Items were
stored and shipped from many different locations. There were no
computers and very few calculating devices. Much of the country had
no telephone service. The big question is, ‘How did Sears
manage to keep track of all of this?’ I am sure that it would
be interesting to know.