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
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.