REFLECTIONS

A Brief Word


| January/February 1996



Unidentified Engine

31/1/2A

Gary Shonk

This issue, we'd like to address a comment from one of our readers. Some time ago Motor books published a title called, American Tractor Trademarks, which has our name on the front cover. Recently, Stemgas published our latest title, Gas Engine Trademarks. Regarding the latter title, our reader writes, in part, 'I will not order that book till I see it... I mistrust that Wendel's books.' The problem appears to be that the American Tractor Trademarks came out with a different front cover than was depicted in the advertising, along with other changes made by the publisher.

First of all, we agree that the cover design was changed. We agree that the size format, and the number of pages in the book was changed. What you may not know is that the inside of the book is totally unlike what this writer envisioned. What you also may not know is that once we sent the final copy to the publisher, we had no idea of what it would look like prior to being published. We'll even agree that what we think should have been a most interesting book in our opinion, ended up as something entirely different than our vision of it. For example, the book, Gas Engine Trademarks shows the entire trademark application; this shows when the mark was filed, and in most cases, shows when a company first used a certain trademark or trade name. That's important in historical research. However, the folks who edited and/or assembled American Tractor Trademarks included only the date that the mark was filed, and that might have been twenty years after the mark was first used. Thus, the real historical significance of a mark is, in our opinion, completely lost.

Subsequently, Motor books has published our American Automobile Trademarks, and this title includes the pertinent information within the book, although it does not include the complete application as is shown in the book, Gas Engine Trademarks. The latter title also includes three different indexes. One of them is by company, so that one can look up Associated Manufacturers, for instance, and see all the different trade-names they used. The second index is by trade names, so that one can look up all the different companies that might have used the trade name of Bull Dog, for instance. The third index is unique, in that it is set on state and city; it gives one the chance to look up all the companies in Buffalo, New York for example.

With 1996, it's 25 years since our first book, Power in the Past: A History of Engine & Tractor Builders in Iowa was published. Since that time we've published over 25 books, or an average of about one book per year. Sooner or later I suppose, there was bound to be a disaster, and in our opinion, it happened with the book we've been talking about. On the redeeming side of things, Roger Welsch, in his new book, Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them, comments regarding our book, Nebraska Tractor Tests Since 1920, '... a beautiful book that I never tire of thumbing through.' Also to our credit, every title we've published over the past twenty-five years is still in print, except for those that have been replaced with a larger or expanded title on the same subject.

For anyone disappointed with American Tractor Trademarks, join the club. We put our reputation on every book that has our name on the front cover, and we're not too happy with it either; all we ask is that you don't throw out the baby with the bath water!

Our first query for the new year of 1996 comes from: