Although he's almost entirely unknown today,
early part of the 20th century W.I. Fickling supplied
coach work and automotive accessories to Manhattan's automobile dealers
later pioneered the baking of enamel finishes on both wood and metal
supplying short runs of baked enamel sheet metal parts to the regions
William Irvine Fickling was born in
Washington D.C. on 1876
to Charles Hollingshead and Ida Elizabeth (Rodier) Fickling, his father
of the Capitol region's best-known real estate agents and investors.
public education he attended Georgetown University, receiving his A.B.
(bachelor of arts) in
1894, followed by an LL.B. (bachelor of laws) from Georgetown's Law
William Irvine Fickling and his younger
Webb (b.1881-d.1939), Frank Gordon (b.1889), John Sotheron
Charles H. jr. (b.1892-1939) were all automobile enthusiasts and during
early part of the 20th century either owned, worked at, or
number of auto-related businesses, most of which were run by their
brother William Irivine.
Amongst William Irvine Fickling's early
endeavors was an automobile parts and accessories superstores, whose
employee, Henry F. (Harry) Holbrook, would become associated with a
of auto-related firms either as president, vice-president, manager, or
secretary-treasurer as follows:
Auto Cover & Top Co., 1905-1906;
Fickling & Co., 1906-1908;
Holbrook-Singer Co.,1908-1910; Holbrook Co., 1910-1913; Enameling &
Stamping Corp. of New York 1918-1920; Perfect Body Corp., 1920-1921;
Holbrook Co. 1921-1922; Associated Motor Industries 1922-1923; National
Corporation 1923-1926; H.F. Holbrook & Henry Brewster Co.
Riddell Co., Bucyrus. Ohio 1928-1937.
Fickling's given name was William Irvine,
although many news
articles list it as William Irving. He married Mae Frances (Grant) (b.
New Rochelle, New York in September of 1906. His listing in the 1909
Who's Who in New York City and State Vol. IV, follows:
"FICKLING, W. Irvine:
Manufacturer; b. Washington, D. C,
1876; B. Charles
H. and Ida E. (Rodier) Fickling; grad. Georgetown Univ., A. B., 1894,
Dep't. same, LL.B., 1897; m. New Rochelle, N. Y., Sept., 1906, Mae
Grant. Engaged in mf'g automobile bodies and equipment and establishing
agencies throughout the country. Formed the Auto Cover and Top Mf'g
succeeded, 1906, by Fickling & Co. (Inc.), of which is
treas. Incorporated N. Y. School of Automobile Eng'rs, 1905. Democrat;
Catholic. Mem. Southern Soc. of N. Y. Clubs: Motor, N. Y. Athletic,
Confederate Veterans. Columbia Yacht. Residence: 524 Riverside Drive.
factory: 154-156 E. 57th Street; Body factory, New Haven, Conn."
December 24, 1902 Horseless Age:
"Fickling & Fulton, 248 West
street, have secured the New York agency for the Covert motorettes and
cars, and have organized a branch of their business to fill orders for
automobiles of all makes. They state that they also have the facilities
building cars to order."
January 28, 1903 Horseless Age:
"FICKLING & FULTON, of New
York, sales agents for the Covert motorettes, made up
display out of two carriages of this make.
vehicle was equipped with a high speed vertical motor of 3
power, air cooled cylinder and water cooled head. Two forward speeds,
reverse, are provided. All the machinery being
on the running gear and the body being very light,
light springs are required. The little carriage had four
elliptics of but one leaf each.
"The other machine was larger
and of a
different type. Its engine was of the de Dion pattern, rated
horse power, and had been placed under a bonnet in
front. The change
speed gear was of the planetary variety, and provided two
forward and a reverse. A hinged wheel, with direct arm
to the steering
link, constituted the steering device. A foot brake and a
were also provided. The weight of this bevel gear driven
said to be 650 pounds, and the tank capacities 6 and 4
gallons of gasoline and water respectively. Both machines
equipped with thermo-siphon circulation."
Located at 248 W. Fifty-fourth St., the firm
first business venture of W. Irvine Fickling and Robert E. Fulton.
The November 14, 1904 edition of the
Horseless Age announced
the appointment of Fulton as manager of the recently-established
branch of the Pope Motor Car Company of Toledo, Ohio. Located on
between Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth streets it served as the Eastern
distributor of Pope-Waverley, Pope-Tribune, Pope-Hartford and
Although Fulton was forced to resign from
the Fulton &
Fickling partnership, he joined his former partner in a new enterprise,
accessory outfit first announced in the July 1905 issue of Motor Age:
"New York — Auto Cover &
Top Mfg. Co.,
capital $15,000. Incorporators W. Irving Ficklin, Thomas H. Ray and J.
"New Alliance in Gotham — Percy Owen and
Fulton, managers respectively of the New York branches of the Winton
companies, and W. Irvine Fickling have just formed the
Cover & Top Mfg. Co., with headquarters at 148 West Fifty-sixth
York. They are handling the Gabriel horn, a new cape cart top and slip
The August 2, 1905 issue of the Horseless
Age included a few
"The Automobile Top and Cover Manufacturing
which W. Irvine Fickling, Percy Owen and Robert E. Fulton are
directors, has been organized, and are using the building at 148 West
Fifty-sixth street, New York city, for the manufacture of limousine
tops and upholstery work. They have the agency for Gabriel horns."
The May 18, 1905 issue of Motor Age:
Garage Chauffeurs' School—The Pope Mfg. Co.
is to establish
in connection with its New York branch a chauffeurs' school.
Instructors from the factories where the various types of Pope cars are
will be In charge, and no man who cannot pass an examination will be
recommended as a chauffeur. There will be frequent lectures and the
demonstrations of cars and their various parts. A nominal fee will be
each man with a view of keeping out undesirable drivers. The idea
with Robert E. Fulton, the assistant manager of the garage,
quickly indorsed by the officers of the company.
Fickling's interests also included the
education of new
mechanics and the August 23, 1905 issue of Horseless Age announced the
of his own automobile school:
"New York School of Auto Engineers, New
$25,000. Incorporators, William Irving Fickling, Clarence
The firm's listing in the 1908 Motor
two of Fickling's business partners, Percy Owen and Robert E. Fulton
involved in the school:
"New York School
of Automobile Engineers, Inc.—146 W. 50th St., New
York City. Practical instruction in the care and operation of
Cap. $25,000. Robert E. Fulton, Pres.; Percy Owen.
Vice-Pres.; M. S.
Gilmer, Treas. and Business Mgr.; Roger B. Whitman, Sec. and Technical
Director. Faculty: Engine Dept., Julius C. Liebhardt, M. E. Ignition
K. Stern, E. E., M. E. Transmission Dept.. Rudolf Grissman, M. E.
and Shop, Albert Capetillo. Special instructors for owners, Albert
S.; G. Rudolph Ruckert, M. E. Road instructors, Matthew Farrell and
Kowsky. Designers' Course, E. Favary, M. E., E. E."
The January 10, 1906 Horseless Age listed
the directors of
the Auto Cover and Top Company in its listing of New York Auto Show
"Auto Cover and Top Company; W. I.
Fickling, R. E. Fulton, Percy Owens, H. D. Cashman, H. J.
Kelleher, L. C.
Chase, Charles Alheim, Edward Yonkers, William Anderson, H. F. Meyers,
Sylvester James, I. L. Bowden."
The January 25, 1906 issue of the Automobile
description of Fickling's exhibit at the show:
"Automobile Cover & Top Mfg. Co.—A
most attractive exhibit was a rich wine colored extension top shown on
yellow and black striped Pope-Hartford body. The covering of the
top was a
very fine texture imported mackintosh waterproof cloth, while the bows
joints were covered with red leather; sockets and buttons were polished
An interesting feature was red leather cover slips for protecting the
the upholstery over the edges of the body. A more serviceable top on
lines to the foregoing, but covered with a gray mackintosh that would
dust and rain spots, was also shown. The bows were of hickory in the
finish. As Eastern distributing agents for the manufacturers, the
displayed Gabriel horns in different sizes and styles, supplemental
springs for use at the ends of the rear spring horns, and a compact
cabinet, with ice compartment, to be carried in the car."
The April 4, 1906 Horseless Age reported
that Fickling had relocated
to a new quarters:
"The Automobile Cover and Top Manufacturing
moving into larger quarters at 154 East Fifty-seventh street, New York
where 20,000 square feet of floor space will be available.
Fickling and Geo. R. Spinning have purchased the interest of Percy
and Robert E. Fulton."
Business must have been good as the June 27,
Age announced that Fickling had bought out Spinning as well:
"W. I. Fickling has purchased the
of the Automobile Cover and Top Manufacturing Company, 154 East
street, New York. The plant is being enlarged to accommodate painting
repair jobs on automobiles, together with all kinds of limousine,
automobile body work."
The September 6, 1906 issue of The
Fickling had a much larger plan in store for Manhattan's new
"AN AUTO MART FOR NEW YORK CITY.
"If plans already well under way do not fall
New York will soon have an automobile mart. Interested in the idea
are W. I. Fickling, E. R. Lozier, S. H. Elliott and Harry V. Kibbs, who
have secured an option on a building at Broadway and Sixty-second
built on speculation as a garage and automobile saleshouse, and is
designed and entirely fireproof. The only thing necessary to insure the
being carried out is a sufficient number of applications for space. An
automobile mart established in Boston has proved very successful, and
no apparent reason, the promoters of the New York plan state, why a
should not be even more successful, the field being more extensive."
Many of Fickling's business partners were
well-known early automobile
men, in particular, Percy Owen and Robert Edison Fulton.
Born in Oswego, New York on January 19,
1875, Percy Owen (b.1875-d.1956)
entered the automobile business as manager of the Winton Motor Carriage
Manhattan factory branch in 1899, after several years working for the
Rutgers Fire Insurance Co. The Manhattan branch is credited with being
first gasoline automobile dealership in New York City, a number of
automobile dealerships having preceded it. He was a member of the US
(Owen, Alexander Winton and Barney Oldfield) that competed in Ireland's
Gordon-Bennett Cup race, and in 1906 left the employ of Winton to
Eastern sales manager of the Aerocar Co. of Detroit. In partnership
friends W.I. Fickling and Robert E. Fulton he helped found the New York
of Auto Engineers and the Automobile Top and Cover Mfg. Co. He imported
Bianchi automobile as Percy Owen Inc. during 1907 and 1908 and helped
New York Automobile Trade Association, serving as its president for a
terms. He also served as treasurer of the National Association of
Manufacturers, and from 1908-1910 served as vice pres. and gen. manager
H. Page & Co., the Manhattan Chalmers distributor. In 1910 he was
the eastern sales manager of the Chalmers Motor Co., and in 1912 became
Chalmers general sales manager. In 1915 he became vice-president of the
Motor Car Co., and between 1916 and 1924 served as president of the
Motor Car Co., of which he was a major investor. After a short stint
for the U.S. Dept of Commerce working under future US. President
Hoover, he accepted a position as director of foreign sales for Dodge
in 1925, retiring from the automobile business in 1926 to enter other
business where he was equally successful. He passed away in 1956 after
as president of Michigan Bakeries a Grand Rapids-based wholesale
(Percy Owen was unrelated to Ralph &
Raymond Owen, the
proprietors of a number of early automobile agencies in Manhattan, and
the manufacturers of the Owen Magnetic automobile.)
Robert Edison Fulton's automotive career
would eclipse that
of Fickling's, culminating in the presidency of the sales organization
of the Mack
Truck Company. Born October 4, 1878 to Robert A. and Anna Louisa
Robert's father owned a well-known grocery store at 1550 Broadway
Fulton, Grocer, formerly Fulton & Bookstaver). His father died in
his activities during the next decade are unknown, but in 1902 he
acquaintance, W. Irvine Fickling, in establishing a Manhattan sales
the Covert automobile, as Ficking & Fulton. In 1904 he became
the Pope Manufacturing Co.'s Manhattan branch. After parting ways with
organization Fulton served as manager of the Mercedes Import Co. after
became associated with C.P. Coleman who had purchased the rights to
the Swiss-built Saurer truck under license. When production began at
Plainfield, New Jersey factory in 1911 he joined the Saurer Motor
salesman. The banking house of J.P. Morgan, heavily invested in both
and Mack Brothers Motor Car Co., spearheaded a merger of their two
manufacturing holdings on September of 23, 1911 creating the
Motor Truck Company, which was capitalized at $2.6 million.
As sales manager (1911-1913) and
vice-president of sales
(1913-1922), Fulton coordinated the sales campaigns of both Saurer and
from 1911 to 1922 when the firm was reorganized as Mack Truck Inc. As
of its associated distribution arm, International Mack Truck Co.,
directed the sales of Mack Trucks up until his retirement in 1935. In
joined William Brewster, president of Brewster & Co., as a director
Rolls-Royce of America, Inc. Fulton passed away on April 30, 1938.
E. Fulton Jr., one of Fulton's two sons with his wife Hannah L.
had a successful career as an inventor, his most notable creations
skyhook and the Airphiban flying car (1946).
Despite sharing a surname, Robert E. Fulton
with the Fulton Motor Truck Company, 1917-1923, a Farmingdale, Long
manufacturer of 1½ ton motor trucks founded by William Fulton Melhuish,
the Clyde Motor Truck Co. in 1915. It's further surprising as W. Irvine
Fickling served as manager of the Fulton Motor Truck Co.'s, Manhattan
from 1918 to 1922.
The August 30, 1906 Motor Way described
"The entire interest of the Automobile Cover
Mfg. Co. Inc., at 154 East Fifty-seventh street, New York,
purchased by W. Irvine Fickling and will be conducted under the
of Fickling & Company, Inc., with office and factory at
address. The capacity of the plant been greatly enlarged to permit of
building of limousine and tonneau bodies and automobile tops. The
also eastern distributors for Gabriel horns, Foster shock brakes,
spiral springs and Harroun auto wipers."
Fickling's listing in the 1908 edition of
Cyclopedia mentions a factory in New Haven Connecticut in addition to
"Fickling & Co., Inc.—154 E. 57th St.,
City. Factory, New Haven, Conn. Mfrs. and agents for limousine,
runabout bodies, cape cart, Victoria and canopy tops, slip covers,
tops, wind shields, tops recovered, extra and folding seats, foot rests
coat rails, lamp covers, dust shields, tire covers, painting bodies,
upholstering, iron and steel work, trunk carriers, tire irons, lamp
wheels repaired, battery and tool boxes, auto fenders, auto relief
"Fickling" ignition and lighting system. Capital, $15,000. Est. 1905.
Successors to Auto Cover & Top Co., September, 1906. W. Irvine
près, and treas.; W. W. Fickling, sec; Henry F. Holbrook, mgr.; C. J.
Donovan, head of trimming dept.; W.С. Clark, head of paint shop; G.
of woodworking dept.; S. Hainpold, head of upholstery dept.; Mr.
of blacksmith dept."
"Fickling, W. Irvine.—Pres, and treas.
Fickling & Co., Inc., 154 E. 57th St., New York City.
"Fickling, Wm. Webb.—Sec. Fickling &
Co., Inc., 154 E. 57th St., New York City."
It's interesting to note that W. Irvine
Fickland served as a
judge in the 1903 and earlier class of the New York Automobile Trade
Association's 1908 Automobile Carnival.
Holbrook resigned as manager of Fickling
& Co. in early
1908, joining forces with John (Jack) Graham, Charles A. Singer Jr. and
J. Levett to produce high-grade custom-built bodies for the Manhattan
distributor of the Simplex and Palmer-Singer Automobile which was owned
Charles A. Singer Jr. and Sr.
Located at 509-15 W. 56th St., New York, New
York, the Holbrook-Singer
Co.'s organization was reported in the February 19, 1908 issue of the
"Holbrook-Singer Co., Larchmont, Westchester
Y.—Capital, $15.000. Directors. Henry F. Holbrook, 58 West
Fifty-ninth street: Charles A. Singer, Jr., and David J. Levett.
Y. To manufacture motors, vehicles, etc."
After Holbrook left, Fickling moved to a
brick structure located at 304-06 W. 49th St. and brought in two
automobile men, C. Royce Hough and D.W. Gluck, to help run the
business. The December
2, 1908 Horseless Age stating:
"Fickling & Co., manufacturer of
bodies and equipment, nave recently leased the large seven story
304 and 306 West Forty-ninth street, New York, where several new
"C. Royce Hough, formerly factory manager of
Manufacturing Co., Indianapolis, Ind., and later sales manager of the
Co., of Washington, D. C, has accepted a position as general manager
of Fickling & Co., New York."
The Real Estate Transactions column of the
December 6, 1908
New York Times reported:
"The Gross & Gross Company has leased
for G. Waldo
Smith to Fickling Co. the entire building 304 and 306 West Forty-ninth
term of years."
Additional details were published in the
December 12, 1908
issue of the New York Times:
"The seven story building at Nos. 304, 306
forty-ninth street has been leased by Fickling & Co., Inc.,
of automobile bodies. The firm has several new departments in its new
To its staff have been added as general manager C. Royce Hough,
factory manager of the Pope Manufacturing Company of Indianapolis, and
manager D.W. Gluck, for several years with the Packard Motor Car
Company of New
The managerial change was reflected in
Fickling & Co.'s 1909
listing in the Motor Cyclopedia:
"Fickling & Co., Inc.—304-06 W.
49th St.. New
York City. Factory, New Haven, Conn. Mfrs. and agts. for limousine,
and runabout bodies, toy tonneaus, touring cars, cape cart, Victoria
tops, slip covers, motor boat tops, wind shields, tops recovered, extra
folding seats, foot rests and coat rails, lamp covers, dust shields,
covers, painting bodies, upholstering, iron and steel work, trunk
irons, lamp brackets, wheels repaired, battery and tool boxes, auto
auto relief springs. "Fickling" ignition and lighting system.
Capital, $15,000. Est. 1905. Successors to Auto Cover & Top Co..
1906. W. Irvine Fickling. Pres. and Treas.; M. G. Fickling, Secy.; S.
Elliott, Director; C. Royce Hough. Gen. Mgr.; D. W. Gluck. Sales Mgr.;
Donovan, Foreman trimming dept.; W. C. Clark, foreman paint shop: J. A.
Fitzsimons, Foreman woodworking dept.; S. Hainpold. Head of upholstery
Ed. Yunkers. Head of blacksmith dept."
A small display ad in the December 26, 1909
New York Times
"LIMOUSINE and Landaulet Bodies. Immediate
"FICKLING COMPANY, 304 West
A little over a month later the Fickling Co.
was in the
hands of a receiver as reported in the February 10, 1910 issue of Motor
"Fickling in Receiver's Hands.
proceedings have been brought against Fickling & Co., of
York City, manufacturers of automobile tops, bodies and
Adams appointing William Henkel, Jr., as receiver. The liabilities are
estimated at $18,000, of which $9,000 is unsecured, and the business
$29,000, consisting of plant, $20,000; accounts, $4,000, and good will
The petition alleges that the corporation is insolvent and that it
all its outstanding accounts to the Northern Bank of New York. It also
alleged that the bank has taken possession of the assets on a chattel
of $8,500, has closed up the stock room and has prevented the taking of
materials for the factory to complete contracts amounting to $6,000.
Adams issued a restraining order against the bank from interfering with
possession of the receiver, as the bank had posted notices of the sale
chattel mortgage and W. I. Fickling, the president of the
stated that the company would suffer irreparable loss if the sale took
The receiver's fear that material might be
exiting the stock
room was well-founded as two of W. Irvine's brothers had recently
their own automobile supply houses. William Webb Fickling in
Frank G. Fickling in Washington D.C.
The July 16, 1910 issue of Automobile Topics
grand opening of Frank G. Fickling & Co.:
"Frank G. Fickling, who has been
the National Electrical Supply Company, in the automobile supply
will on August 1 open a general supply store at 1112 14th Street, N. W.
firm will be known as Frank G. Fickling & Co. and will
complete line of automobile accessories."
May 4, 1911 Washington Post classified:
"Accessories and Supplies of all kinds.
FICKLING Co., 1112 14th st. N.W. Phone N. 3825."
The February 22, 1912 issue of Motor World
"Frank G. Fickling, formerly of the Frank G.
Co., and W. W. Fickling, of Philadelphia, have formed a
and opened salesrooms at 1401 I street N. W., Washington, D. C, where
deal in accessories."
While his brother ran their own firm Frank
competing firm across town as recorded in the September 26, 1912 Motor
"Washington, D. C—The National Auto Supply
opened a store at 1530 Fourteenth street, N. W, with Frank G.
Fickling as manager."
March 16, 1913 Washington Post:
"Frank Fickling has been appointed manager
local branch of the Motz Tire Company, which has located at 1012
street northwest. Mr. Fickling is well known to the Washington
trade, having been engaged in the accessory business here for several
past. The new branch will be formally opened with a complete stock of
tires this week."
Following W. Irvine Fickling's 1910
bankruptcy the firm's spacious
facility was leased to the W.A. Wood Automobile Mfg. Co. of Kingston,
the importer of the British-built Commer Car Truck. According to the
1910 issue of the Commercial Vehicle the firm hoped to produce 1 to 6
Commer trucks in a leased Kingston, New York factory:
"For the present the machines sold will be
from the works of Commercial Cars, Ltd., England, until the company is
position to ship American-built machines from Kingston."
William A. Wood had recently become
well-known in Manhattan
automobile circles as he had announced the introduction of Guy
"Try-out" car and had recently purchased some of the assets of Wyckoff,
Church & Partridge, Manhattan's Stearns, Commer and DeCauville
Manufacture of the 'American' Commer never
Kimes & Clark question whether series production of the Vaughan
although a few test cars were produced between 1910 and 1912. In 1911
A. Wood reorganized the W.A. Wood Automobile Mfg. Co. as Wycoff, Church
Partridge Inc., and the resulting firm was declared bankrupt in 1912.
The former Fickling & Co. building on
West 49th Street was
subsequently taken over by the Orchard Spring Water Co. the century-old
at 304-06 W. 49th St. currently houses a rental car office and parking
Fickling did not stay with the building,
having found a job
as a Reliance salesman as reported in the March 3, 1910 issue of Motor
"W. I. Fickling, who has long been
identified with the automobile
trade, has returned to the commercial vehicle end of the business and
assistant sales manager for Reliance gasoline wagons and trucks with
the Rainier Motor Truck Company, at Broadway and Sixty-fourth
The Rainier Co. later the R.& L. Co.,
also distributed the Garford and Willys trucks.
Although the Holbrook Company enjoyed much
success in the
custom body field, after five years in business its founder and
F. Holbrook parted ways with the firm, selling his shares to the
returning to his native England where he served as a gunner in the
Holbrook had served as the firm's salesman
and designer and
when he left the void was filled by a succession of talent who included
Paris-born coachbuilder, Leon Rubay, who worked for the firm for a
years between stints with Rothschild & Co., White and his own
In the meantime Holbrook's friend and former
employer W. Irvine
Fickling had formed a new organization, the Fickling Enameling
which was organized under the laws of New York State on November 14,
partners in the enterprise were two of his younger brothers, John
(b.1893-d.1966) and Frank Gordon (b.1889) Fickling – W. Irvine, pres.;
Sothern, vice-pres. & superintendent; and Frank G., sec.-treas.
The November 5, 1914 issue of the Automobile
Irvine Fickling, for the past 4 years sales manager of the R.
L. Co., New York City, Eastern distributors of Garford trucks, has
will shortly make an announcement of a new connection."
That announcement appeared in the December
16, 1914 issue of
the Horseless Age:
"Fickling Enameling Plant.—The second
floor of the
building at Webster and Second avenue, Long Island City, N. Y.,
leased by the Fickling Enameling Co., which will maintain an
body and general enameling plant on the premises, which provides over
square feet of floor apace."
The 'News and Notes of the Automobile Trade'
column of the March
21, 1915 New York Times made mention of the firm's new Radio-enameling
"A direct effort to give more efficient
service to car
owners who desire to refinish their vehicles has been made by the
Enameling Corporation, Long Island City. The process used has been
Radio by this concern, and by it complete automobiles can be japanned
The process was explained in further detail
in the April 8,
1915 issue of Iron Age:
"A Rapid Enameling Process
"An enameling process, the distinctive
which is a quick-drying secured by heating the objects treated in large
under a relative high percentage of humidity, has been perfected by the
Fickling Enameling Corporation, Long Island City, New York. By this
known as the Radio-enameling process, an automobile can be refinished
"After the initial enamel has been applied
dipping or spraying, the parts are placed in these specially
and dried under a uniform temperature and humidity. Thermostatic
the temperature between 110 and 120 deg. F., and water control on a
regulates the humidity at a point about 40 per cent, of saturation.
character of materials allows, the temperature is increased to as much
deg. The final enamel is subjected to a similar baking at a slightly
"Drying in the ovens under the constant
temperature and moisture and the use of water-washed air are said to
more lasting enamel than is possible by ordinary air drying. Keeping
surface green permits the inner layers to dry and set, thus securing a
enduring foundation. When dried in the open air, the surface becomes
while the under coatings may be green for some time. On automobile
results in sweating. W. I. Fickling, president of the
of the opinion that the Radio method will have wide industrial uses
of the time saved in drying. One oven 19 ft. 6 in. x 42 ft. is in
present and Mr. Fickling holds that the method would be efficient with
The May 19, 1915 issue of the Horseless Age
Fickling had taken over the plant of the Dunlop Wire Wheel Co.:
"Fickling Takes Over Dunlop Enameling
Plant.—The Fickling Enameling Corp., of Long Island City, N.
purchased the enameling plant of the Dunlop Wire Wheel Co., said to be
the most modern establishments of its kind in the United States. The
are prepared to continue the service formerly supplied by the Dunlop
A New York Tribune display ad dating from
September 8, 1915 is
"Automobiles Japanned in 3 Days
Fickling Enameling Corp., 2d and Webster Av.
City. Telephone Astoria 1476
"Japanning of every character. All Colors."
Business increased to the point where
manufacturing capacity was required and the November 13, 1915 issue of
announced a 25,000 sq. ft. plant expansion:
"Fickling to Add 25,000 Sq. Ft.
"Long Island City, N. Y.,
Nov. 13— The
Fickling Enameling Corp., this city, is enlarging its plant by the
26,000 sq. ft. to accommodate its assembling plant, and the
metal-stamping and upholstery departments, to take care of several
contracts recently received from manufacturers."
The firm's listing in the 1917 New York city
"FICKLING ENAMELING CORPORATION, W Irvine
Pres; J Sothoron Fickling V-Pres; M. G. Fickling Sec and Treas;
Japanning Metal Work. Automobiles japanned 2d and Webster Avs L I City
Astoria 1474, 1475, 1476."
The May 13, 1917 issue of the Automobile
revealed that some
of the firm's excess capacity would now be used to store automobiles:
"Fickling Adds Storage Department
"New York, April
Enameling Corp., Long Island City, has added to its plant a
the storage of cars and bodies. Following are the rates: Closed cars,
month $12, additional months $8.50; touring cars and runabouts and
and $7.50; closed bodies, $8 and $6.50; touring bodies, $6.50 and $5.
prices include jacking up cars and supplying covers."
The January 17, 1918 issue of Automotive
Industries / The Automobile
announced that W. Irvine's brother, William Webb Fickling was now
the Fulton Motor Truck Co.:
"W. W. Fickling, formerly connected
with the Olds
Motor Works, Lansing, and later with the Cadillac Motor Car Co. and the
and Gramm-Bernstein companies in the truck field, has joined the forces
Fulton Motor Truck Co., Farmingdale, Long Island, N. Y."
After a four year hiatus from the automotive
F. Holbrook returned to the United States in mid-1918 in order to join
friend and former employer's Long Island City body building and
business. The May 23, 1918 issue of Automotive Industries/The
reported on the firm's reorganization:
"Fickling Enameling Reorganized
"LONG ISLAND CITY, N. Y., May 21
Enameling Co. has passed out of existence and has been succeeded
Enameling & Stamping Corp., organized with a capital of $200,000.
Fickling will be president of the new company, and H. F. Holbrook,
associated with the Holbrook company, manufacturer of bodies, will be
April-May 1918 issue of The Metal Record and
indicate his wife Mae Frances, was involved in the enterprise:
"The Enameling &
Stamping Corporation of
New York, Brooklyn, has been incorporated, with a capital of $200,000
Holbrook, W.I. and M.F. Fickling, 600 West 116th Street to
enameled ware, etc."
The May 1, 1918 edition of The Horseless
reported that W.
Irivine Fickling had joined his brother at the Fulton Motor Truck Co.,
Manhattan sales headquarters of the Fulton Motor Truck:
"Carl H. Page and W. Irving Fickling are
with Norris Mason in the New York Fulton Truck Company recently formed
handle the Fulton Truck made by the Fulton Motor Truck Company,
They also printed a retraction related to
the firm's sales
manager, Norris Mason, who like Fickling, had long been a fixture in
"Norris Mason is sales manager of
the New York agency of the Fulton Motor Truck Company instead of
company itself as stated in the last issue
of The Horseless Age. W. F. Melhuish, Jr., is
sales manager and H. J. Flint is assistant sales manager."
The June 28, 1918 Motor Age announced the
Fickling Enameling Corp. as Enameling & Stamping Corp. of New York:
"Enameling Works for Service to Makers—
"The Enameling & Stamping Corp. of New
established in Long Island City what are said to be the largest
in the East devoted exclusively to the service of manufacturers for
this character. The company has purchased the plant of the Fickling
Enameling Corp. and is now equipped for enameling of every
in all colors. One of the quantity-production contracts now in progress
enameling of 2,500,000 pieces. W. I. Fickling is president and
him is H. F. Holbrook, formerly president of the Holbrook Co."
Henry F. Holbrook was listed as the firm's
treasurer. The August 1, 1918 issue of Aviation reported on the firm's
in rustproofing metal:
"A Rust Proofing
"The increased cost of galvanizing and other
of rust-proofing and the unsuitability of galvanizing or other metal as
coating for metal parts which must be inspected rigidly for defects
assembling and constantly reinspected during use, has turned attention
to the safety
transparent, rust-proof and acid-proof finish
which has been developed by the Enameling & Stamping
New York. It is said that no defects in metal can possibly be
it when baked in its transparent form. Various Government and airplane
manufacturers are carrying out tests of this finish. As a priming
grips the pores of the metal so closely that no scraping or cutting can
the rustproof effect, unless the metal itself is cut away. The
also is being applied in many cases with pigment, of all colors, in it.
costs considerably less than porcelain enameling, it is expected to
that finish for many articles. It is, in fact, less expensive than
or tinning under present conditions."
Coinciding with the reorganization of the
Corp. as the Enameling & Stamping Corp. was W. Irvine Fickling's
appointment as sales manager of the Fulton Motor Truck Co.'s Manhattan
office which was announced in the May 1, 1918 issue of Horseless Age:
"Carl H. Page and W. Irving Fickling are
with Norris Mason in the New York Fulton Truck
formed to handle the Fulton Truck made by the Fulton Motor Truck
Despite sharing a name, Robert E. Fulton was
with the Fulton Motor Truck Company, 1917-1923, a Farmingdale, Long
manufacturer of 1½ ton motor trucks founded by William Fulton Melhuish,
the Clyde Motor Truck Co. in 1915. Fulton Motor Truck Co.'s Hempstead
would later house the Fairchild and later on the Grumman aircraft
The Enameling & Stamping Corp. of New
York must have
been very short-lived and by early 1920 Henry F. Holbrook, Fickling's
had gone back in business with the Singer's forming the Perfect Body
Corporation in early 1920. The 'Commercial Leases' column of the May 8,
New York Times reported:
"Leo Schloss leased for the Theodore Klein
Company, to the Perfect Body Corporation, H. F. Holbrook, President, a
subsidiary of the Singer Motor Car Company, the one story
Madison Avenue between 136th to 137th Streets covering an area of
Within the year the Perfect Body Corp. had
and on April 5, 1921 Henry F. Holbrook had incorporated the H.F.
Company with the New York Secretary of State as a Foreign Business
No more was heard from the Enameling &
Stamping Corp. of
New York after its 1918 organization, and Fickling concentrated his
to truck and automobile sales as recorded by the July 13, 1919 issue of
"NEW CAR ON BROADWAY.
"The Hollier "Six," five-passenger touring
type, 116-inch wheelbase. The local agency has just been taken by W.
Fickling and Norris Mason of the New York Fulton Truck Company."
W. Irvine Fickling made a number of trips to
1917 and 1919, and his name is conspicuously absent from the automobile
after 1920. He and his wife Mae, and daughter Elizabeth are included in
1920 US Census as resident of Westchester County, New York, but within
had relocated to Miami, Florida. The purpose was to join his
Leonidas Beatie Southerland, the spouse of his sister Ida, in a new
venture, the Fickling-Southerland Realty Corp. Fickling served as
president, L.B. Southerland, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
The Fickling family's fortune had been
founded upon real
estate so it's not surprising, W. Irvine returned to the profession of
father after he relocated to Miami, which was in the midst of a real
boom. Located in Miami's historic Congress building, the firm was
the death of Southerland becoming Fickling Properties. Although it's
headquartered in Macon, Georgia the firm is still in business as
An entry at Ancestry.com dating from 2001
Frances Fickling (b. Aug. 23, 1907) had a child in 1931 that was
after her father, William I. Fickling. The story of how he got his name
interesting. His great-granddaughter Elfriede Hutwelker writes (edited
"I am the great-granddaughter of William
Fickling. He was married to Mae Frances Fickling,
whose only child, my grandmother Elizabeth
Frances Fickling, was born in New York City on August 23, 1907. She
three times. My grandfather was Roy D. Cone, her other two husbands
Leroy Wakefield and ? Jones. When she filed for her Social Security
1936 she was living at 431 Rivo Alto Island, Miami Beach, Florida and
for Fickling Properties Inc., 1414 Congress Bldg., Miami Florida.
"Elizabeth Frances Fickling married Roy
Davis Cone, and
their son, Roy William Cone, was born on August 4, 1931. Shortly
thereafter a divorce
and bitter custody battle ensued resulting in my father being adopted
by his maternal
grandfather (my grandfather, William Irvine Fickling) and his name
changed to William
I couldn't locate an obituary for W. Irvine
perhaps a family member might be so kind as to forward that information
© 2011 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com