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J.E. Demar Co.
J.E. Demar Co., 1907-1911; Markell Corp., 1913-1916; New York, New York
Associated Builders

J.E. Demar Co. was an early New York City coachbuilder formed by the Manhattan distributor of the Baker Electric. Little is known of the firm’s work save for a striking white touring car depicted in a 1910 advertisement.

Joseph Edward Demar was born in 1867 in Washington D.C. to Charles H. and Francis E. Demar - his father was proprietor of a Dry Goods store located in D.C. at 1305 32d St. Northwest.

The 1890 US Census lists J. Edward Demar (home address - 1303 32d St. Northwest) as a partner in Robert S. Fletcher & Co., a general merchandise broker located in the Seaton Hall Bldg. at 408 Ninth St. Northwest, Washington, D.C.

His first mention in the automobiles trades appeared in a 1903 issue of Automotive Industries:

“The Baker Motor Vehicle Agency, New York, to sell Baker motor vehicles, has been incorporated by J. Edward Demar, Albert B. Rulison, New York, and Samuel W. Wickens, of Newark, N. J. Capital $25,000.”

An overview of Demar's operation was included in the June 1, 1904 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal:

“The Baker Motor Vehicle Agency

“The Baker Motor Vehicle Agency is situated at 1790 Broadway, New York. corner of Fifty-eighth street. and the Baker Electric Carriage is handled exclusively. The concern is a stock company, with J. E. Demar as secretary and manager. They have been established about eight months and occupy a three-story building comprising 12.500 square feet of floor space, with storage capacity for 60 machines. They also do repairing.

“They look after nothing but Baker Electrics, and their policy is to give an over-all cost for the upkeep of a machine, this charge including ordinary repairs not made necessary by accidents. By this plan the customer knows exactly what his vehicle is going to cost him per month to keep, and this scheme has proved most satisfactory both from the standpoint of their customers and themselves. Of course this plan could not be applied to the maintenance of gasoline cars, but where but one make of electric machine is looked after, it has proved a most satisfactory way of conducting the business.

“The Baker line includes vehicles from $350 to $1600.”

The Baker Motor Vehicle Agency was located on the first floor of the 10-story United States Rubber Building.

The 1904 Directory of Directors in the City of New York and the suburbs lists Demar as president of the firm:

“DEMAR, J. E.; 1790 Broadway, Baker Motor Vehicle Agency, President, Secretary, Manager and Director.”

The 1905 Directory of Directors in the City of New York and the suburbs indicates Demar was also the general manager of the National Automobile Co., a yet unidentified business:

“DEMAR, J. EDWARD; 1790 Broadway, National Automobile Co., General Manager and Director.”

The Recent Business Changes column of the April 9, 1908 issue of The Automobile infer that Demar had vacated his 1790 Broadway showroom:

“The Continental Caoutchouc Company, which has had its headquarters for a number of years at 43 Warren street, New York City, announces its removal to 1788-1790 Broadway, corner of Fifty eighth street, the premises formerly occupied by the Baker Electric Company. The Continental people will take immediate possession. General Manager Gilbert reports an increasing demand for Continental tires this season particularly for the new demountable rim carrying ready-flated tires.”

The formation of the J.E. Demar Co was announced in the July 18, 1907 issue of the Iron Trade Review:

“Joseph E. Demar, 515 West 111th street; Richard Ely and Julian B. Beaty, 141 Broadway, all of New York, have incorporated the J. E. Demar Co., New York, to manufacture motors, engines, carriages, etc.”

The March 1908 issue of MoToR reports Demar had added automobile tops to his product line:

“Now in the Top Business.

“J.E. Demar & Co. have secured quarters at 244 West 49th St., New York City, and will engage in the manufacture of tops and bodies and will do painting and refinishing.”

The Demar Co'.s listing in the 1909 Trow (formerly Wilson's) Copartnership and Corporation Directory of New York reveal the names of his business associates:

“Demar, J.E. Co. (N.Y.) (J. Edward Demar, Pres.: Alfred J. Diefenderfer, Sec.; Oscar R. Weiss, Treas. Capital, $15,000. Directors; J. Edward Demar, Alfred J. Diefenderfer, Oscar R. Weiss) 244 W. 49th.”

The April 1910 issue of The Carriage Monthly announces the firm's relocation to 304-306 West Forty-Ninth St.:

“J. E. Demar Co., manufacturers of automobile bodies and tops, have leased the six-story and basement garage at 304-306 West Forty-Ninth Street, New York City, for a term of years at an aggregate rental of about $100,000.”

Furthur details were included in a concurrent article in Motor Age:

“New York — The J. E. Demar Co., manufacturer of bodies and tops, has leased a six-story and basement garage, 50 by 100, at 304-306 West Forty-ninth street.”

The firm entered into bankruptcy proceeding in January of 1911, Motor World Wholesale reporting:

“On Tuesday last, 24th inst., a petition in bankruptcy was filed against the J. E. De MarCo., manufacturers of automobile tops, at No. 304 West 49th street, New York. It was alleged that the company is insolvent. The receiver permitted three creditors to obtain judgments for $358, and on January 10 gave a bill of sale on some machinery to the W. A. Woods company. Assets are estimated at "$21,000. The company was incorporated in 1907, with capital stock $15,000, which was afterward increased to $50.000.”

R.L. Polk & Co.’s 1914 Manhattan Directory lists Demar as head of a new firm:

“Markell Corporation (N.Y.) (J. Edward Demar, Pres.; William H. Sandall, Sec.; Capital $1,000. Directors: Mildred J. Pelikan, William H. Sandall, E. Huber, J. Edward Demar) 1784 B’way r. 611”

The October 22, 1913 issue of the Horseless Age reveals that after the bankruptcy Demar had been working for the Manhattan F.B. Stearns distributor:

“J. E. Demar, one of the best known of metropolitan automobile salesmen, has resigned from the F. B. Stearns Co. to enter in business as a manufacturers' agent. He will also do a general brokerage business and has established headquarters in the United States Rubber building in New York.”

A concurrent issue of The Autombile / Automotive Industries gives the name of the new firm:

“Demar In Own Business — J. E. Demar has gone into business for himself as the Markell Corp., with offices in the United States Rubber Building, New York City. He will act as a manufacturers' agent in the buying and selling of cars and supplies.”

The 1915 New York State Census provides the name of his wife and daughter:

“Joseph E. Demar (b.1867 - occupation salesman) spouse Harriet (b.1877), daughter Arline (b. 1898 in Scotland).”

Within the year Demar had taken a position with the Manhattan Hupmobile distibutor, the Septtember 23, 1916 issue of Automobile Topics reporting:

“DeMar Heads Riess Sales

“J. E. DeMar, who is well known in the New York trade, has become sales manager for Chas. E. Riess & Co., Inc., New York distributor for the Hupmobile. He was formerly assistant sales manager for the F. B. Stearns Co. of New York.”

The November 7, 1918 issue of Automotive Industries announced yet another new business venture for Demar:

“J. Edward Demar has resigned as sales manager of Chas. E. Reiss & Co., Inc., New York, to accept the presidency of the Carlisle Sales Co., Inc., distributer of the Carlisle cord tire, with offices and showrooms at 237 West Fifty-eighth Street.”

An article in the August 24, 1919 San Francisco Chronicle provides Demar's take on a recent innovation in the tire business:

“Tire Shop Called On For Colors to Suit Lady’s Whim

“It is not quite possible for women of fashion to have tires on their automobile in shade-harmony with their hair or gowns. Tire manufacturers have made astonishing progress during the past year or so in the art of coloring their casings, particularly tire treads. Like some of the women they also went to the druggist for assistance.

“Red rubber, of best quality, is colored with antimony, after a long and rather expensive process. Red rubber of inferior quality is produced hurriedly with iron oxide. Pure cream color is made with zinc; gray is obtained with sulphur and black with lamp-black.

“People are getting fussy about the color of the treads on their tires," says J. Edward DeMar, president of the Carlisle Sales company of New York. The Carlisle is the tire made from one continuous rope or ‘giant cord,’ on a machine which has revolutionized cord-tire building. The Carlisle non-skid tread is of ebony hue with parallel streaks of lightning running around the circumference of the wheel and forming the non-skid designs. ‘Recently’, explained DeMar, ‘a wealthy woman made a special call upon me to find out if I could order for her from our factory a set of Carlisle Cord Tires with blue tread and red lightning non-skid design. When I explained that even the Carlisle Cord Tire factory, which is the most modern in the world as to methods of manufacture, could not get quite as close to nature as that, she said she would be willing to take a red tread with white lightning, but I had to tell her we were also all out of white lightning.”

Demar remained in the tire business until his retirement.

©2013 Mark Theobald for








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