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Moore & Munger  Co.
Moore & Munger Company, 1904-1915; New York, New York
Associated Builders
Smith & Mabley, Cole & Stratton

Moore & Munger is one of a handful of pre-classic era Manhattan body builders that were organized to supply coachwork to New York’s high-class imported and domestic early automobile dealers.  

One of the firm’s founders an ex-champion bicycle racer named Louis de Franklin Munger (aka Birdie Munger) (b.1863-d.1929), who remains famous today due to his close association with Marshall W. “Major” Taylor, America’s first African-American bicycle racing champion.  

Louis (Birdie) de Franklin Munger (b.1863 – d. 1929) was born in Detroit, Michigan sometime during 1863 to Theodore and Mary Jane Pattee Munger, two native Canadians who had emigrated to the United States in 1859. The Mungers established a small farm in Black Hawk County, Iowa, but relocated to Windsor, Ontario, Canada shortly after Louis's birth.

The elder Munger eventually found work in the Detroit, Michigan patent office and in that capacity exposed young Louis to the world of invention. The 1880 US Census reveals that 16-year-old Munger was “working in a blind factory” but within two years his name began to appear as a contestant in regional high-wheel bicycle races.

He soon relocated to Chicago, where he successfully competed against the top competitors in the Chicago-Peoria-Springfield racing circuit after which he became a full time racer, traveling the board tracks and velodromes of the Northeast and Central United States. He was able to earn a living at racing and at one time held the National record for the fastest mile.

Although most of his career was spent racing high-wheelers he was an early adopter of John Kemp Starley’s Rover-type safety cycle and by 1892 had moved to Indianapolis in the hopes of manufacturing his own safety cycle.

It was in Indianapolis that he became acquainted with a gifted young cyclist named Marshall W. Taylor.

Marshall W. Taylor was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on Nov. 26, 1878. During the Civil War his father fought in an all-black Union regiment after which he purchased a small homestead on the outskirts of Indianapolis. Young Marshall was given a bicycle at an early age and his unusual riding ability caught the eye of Thomas Hay a proprietor of the Hay and Willits’ Bicycle Shop. In 1892 Hay gave him a job performing cycle stunts in a civil war uniform, after which he became known as ‘Major’.

In 1893 he was hired by Indianapolis’ premier bicycle retailer, Harry Hearsey, as a riding instructor. The youngster started to enter local races and later that year set a one-mile record of 2:11 at Indianapolis’ Capitol City race track after which he won a 75-mile long cross-country race between Indianapolis and Matthews, Indiana.

During that period Munger met Taylor and took an immediate liking to him. Munger soon became Taylor’s coach and eventually offered him a job at his small bicycle factory. Munger’s racing bikes attracted the attention of some Indianapolis businessmen who helped organize the Munger Cycle Manufacturing Company in early 1894.

A 75ft x150 ft.3-story brick factory was established at 932 Fort Wayne Ave., Indianapolis, and manufacture of the Munger Safety Bicycle commenced soon afterwards.

A short biography of the firm appeared in an 1896 publication, ‘From Indianapolis of Today’:

“MUNGER CYCLE COMPANY; No. 150 Fort Wayne Avenue.

“It was in 1894 that the ‘Munger’ the champion light weight high grade wheel was first introduced to the public, yet its name is now almost as familiar as Shakespeare or Robinson Crusoe. In the face of the keenest competition the Munger Cycle Company, have placed this new industry on a basis firm and permanent and given to Indianapolis one of the largest and finest cycle factories in the world. This factory is a three-story brick building 150x75 feet in size, equipped with new machinery operated by a steam engine of sixty horse power, some ninety expert workmen being employed, and from three to four thousand wheels are turned out annually. The ‘Munger’ is emphatically the lightest and easiest running wheel made The frame is made from best quality steel tubing and forgings, reinforced at all points ; the hubs are turned from solid bar tool steel, the handle bars are reversible, the wood rims are fabric covered and weather proof, the cranks are made with patent fastenings and there is a new patent pedal with the best fastening made. In a word, the finest workmanship and material have combined to make the "Munger" the finest wheel in the world. 

“The Munger Cycle Company was incorporated in 1894, under the laws of Indiana, and is officered as follows: Augustus Bruner, president and manager; S.L. Pattison, vice president; Orlando Bruner, treasurer ; Anderson Bruner, secretary. The Messrs. Bruner are also the head of Diamond Laundry in this city, and Messrs. Augustus and Anderson Bruner are engaged in business as sewer contractors, and are well known members of the Builders' Exchange. Mr. Pattison is secretary of the Indiana Chain Works, and all these gentlemen are members of the Board of Trade.”

Munger’s exact financial relationship with the Bruners is unknown, but within the year he had moved to Worcester, Massachusetts with his protégé in the hopes of organizing another bicycle company.

The July 4, 1896 issue of Sporting Life announced Munger Cycle Co.’s bankruptcy:

“The Munger Cycle Company has made an assignment on Wednesday of last week. The company has been in business since 1892 and was originally started by L.D. Munger. No statement of assets or liabilities has been issued.”

Orlando Bruner was appointed trustee and in 1897 the firm was reorganized as the Bruner Manufacturing Company, and continued manufacturing the Munger Bicycle into 1899. In 1903 the facility became the home of the Premier Motor Mfg. Co., who manufactured the Premier automobile between 1903 and 1926.

By November of 1895 Munger had become associated with the recently organized Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company, the manufacturer of Middletown and Royal Worcester bicycles.

The $600,000 firm had two plants, one in Worcester, Massachusetts the other in Middletown, Connecticut. A November 1895 issue of Outdoor Life stated that the demand for bicycles was so great that the Worcester plant was running into overtime.

When they weren’t competing in bicycle races Taylor and Munger worked for the company; Taylor as a machinist’s apprentice and Louis as a salesman in the firm’s Manhattan office and warerooms which were located at 17 Murray Street and 461-463 Broadway respectively. Soon after his arrival in New York, Worcester introduced a new racing model which was marketed as the ‘Birdie Special’.

During the same period Munger develop a special bicycle sprocket which was described in great detail by James Lewis Lucas in his 1897 book, ‘Dies and Die Making’:

“Fig. 64 illustrates a method of making bicycle sprockets that is both better and cheaper than that usually followed, and one that is not in general use. It is the invention of Mr. L. B. Munger,—who is well known for his improved methods of manufacturing bicycle parts,—and has been copied to some extent by his competitors.

“The sprocket is blanked out in the usual manner, and the cross area of the stock that is left to form the spoke is carefully calculated, so that after the sprocket has been through the forging die, no fin is left around the edges of either spoke or hub. This calls for good judgment as well as accurate measurement on the part of the die-maker, as it has proved a failure in several cases where an attempt has been made to adopt Mr. Munger's method.

"The tail shown on the blank is intended to be grasped in the tongs while heating, and in placing the blank upon the forging dies, and cut off after that operation.

“This same method is followed by Mr. Munger in all kinds of forgings the work being first punched out to the proper size, leaving the required amount of stock necessary to fill the die, and is then forged, leaving little or no fin, and avoiding the trimming process after the work has been forged.

“This method has been jealously guarded by Mr. Munger, and is here published for the first time with his full permission.”

During 1896 and 1897 Worcester advertised in many magazines such as Rutgers College Scarlet Letter, American Hebrew, Parisian Illustrated, Good Roads, and Elbert Hubbard’s Philistine. The following copy is transcribed from an article/advertisement in the October 10, 1896 New York Times:

“Most persons are astonished at the prices that are asked for high grade bicycles. They cannot understand why a wheel weighing in the neighborhood of twenty pounds should cost $100 or $125 without any fancy fixings. The fact is that a high grade wheel is better worth $125 than ordinary ones are worth half that price. The very best material and workmanship enter into its construction, every part is submitted to a severe test before shipment, and one feels the most absolute confidence while riding.

“The Boyd and the Birdie, specially manufactured by the Worcester Cycle Mfg. Co., are examples of such high grade wheels. They are light but very strong, and ride smoothly. A couple of recent incidents have brought their special merits into notice. At Deming, New Mexico, A.B. Simons, riding a Birdie special broke the record, covering one third of a mile in 33½ seconds, while at the great road race in Omaha on Decoration Day all the honors were carried off by Mr. Fred Barnum on a Birdie Special. Surely these things prove that a Worcester Cycle is worth the $125 asked for it. These wheels can be seen at 19 West 42d Street.

"For Men and Women. Tandems, too. Also Bicycles for Youths and Misses, Boys and Girls. The Worcester Catalogues tell of all. Free. WORCESTER CYCLE MFG. CO.”

The February 20, 1897 issue of Outdoor Life reported on the firm’s display at the recent New York National Cycle Show which was held from February 7th - 13th  1897:

“Worcester Cycle Mfg. Co.

“This was one of the most imposing stands at the show. The rich decorations lost none of their effect by their simplicity. A royal purple velvet sign, in a gold frame and lettered in gold, extended across the top of two sides of the stand, and set forth the company’s name and ‘Royal Worcesters’ there shown; while a royal purple railing encircled the space and soft carpets cushioned it. Light came from two large and very handsome electric lighted hanging lamps.  In a word, the decorations well carried out the ‘royal’ idea. The general offices, now at no.17 Murray Street, New York, and the factories at Middletown, Conn., and Worcester, Mass., were all represented among those in attendance. James Josephi was in charge, assisted by J.B. Warner, C.J. Ellison, J.F. Lyon, John Chambers and J. Adkins Jones. George S McDonald, general manager, and Leon Johnson, superintendent of sales, were also often on hand. Seventy wheels were shown, including the entire Royal Worcester and Middletown lines, and proved equally handsome as the decorations.”

The firm’s success was short-lived. In June 1897 employees at the Worcester plant struck due to a reduction in wages and on July 13, 1897 the New York Times reported that a receiver had been appointed:

“BICYCLE FIRM'S BIG DEBTS.; Liabilities of the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company Foot Up $699,000 - F.S. Smith, Receiver.

“Judge Russell of the Supreme Court yesterday appointed Frank Sullivan Smith of 54 Wall Street receiver of the property in this State of the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company, whose salesrooms are at 17 Murray Street and 461 and 463 Boulevard, and factories at Middletown, Conn., and Worcester, Mass., on the application of John Byrne, who is a creditor for $5,481, and owns two shares of stock in the company. Mr. Smith’s bond was fixed at $10,000. He has already been appointed receiver in New Jersey and Connecticut.

“The Sheriff has been in possession of the asset in this city for the past six weeks on numerous attachments. The company is a New Jersey Corporation, incorporated in July, 1895, with a capital stock of $500,000. On Sept. 1, 1896 it made a mortgage to the Central Trust Company as trustee for $500,000 to secure an issue of bonds, of which $320,000 have been issued and are outstanding. Default has been made on the interest, and foreclosure proceedings were recently commenced.

“The total liabilities of the company are $699,000, as follows: Outstanding bonds, $320,000; due for materials, $93,000; notes for materials, $44,000; notes for advances $77,000; mortgages on plant at Worcester, $80,000; at Middletown, $85,000. The nominal assets are $505,000, consisting of real estate at Middletown, $105,000; tools and materials there $125,000; real estate at Worcester $200,000; tools and materials there, $25,000; outstanding accounts, $50,000.”

Coincidently, Carl Oscar Hedström, a former bicycle racer and co-founder of the Indian Motorcycle Co. built some early prototype motorcycles in the former Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company plant in Middletown, Connecticut in early 1901. However, the manufacture of the first production Indians took place in Springfield, Massachusetts in the plant of the Hendee Manufacturing Company.

As they were not directly involved in the firm’s finances or operations, its financial troubles had little effect on Munger and Taylor, and in 1898 Taylor set a number of world records and became the nation’s leading racer. Between 1898 and 1905 Taylor won 3 bicycle track championships and engaged in a number of European tours.

In between races, Munger founded the Munger Vehicle Tire Co. in order to manufacture a patented demountable pneumatic tire and rim of his own design.

The December 6, 1899 New York Times reported:

“Trenton, N.J. Dec. 5 – The following companies were incorporated here today:

"The Munger Vehicle Tire Company to manufacture tires of all kinds; capital $600,000. Incorporators- L.B. Munger, H.C. Quinby, U.D. Eddy, Benjamin J. Downer, and W.A. Downer, all of Jersey City.”

The December 19, 1899 issue of the New York Times gave further details:

“‘Birdie’ Munger, prominent in days of cycle racing with Zimmerman, Windle, Tyler, and others, is the inventor of a new automobile tire on which he has been working for three years. During the last two years Munger has looked after the Interests of ‘Major’ Taylor, the colored rider.”

Munger’s three patents; Pat # 638588 for a combined elastic and pneumatic tire, filed April 25, 1899; Pat #638589 for a combined pneumatic and cushioned tire,  filed May 11, 1899 and Pat # 638590 for a combined pneumatic and cushion tire and rim, filed July 21, 1899 were all assigned to the National Wheel and Traction Company, a New Jersey-based holding company.

Although he would later become wealthy from US patent # 638590 (combined pneumatic and cushion tire and rim), the rewards would come years later, and his tire company became dormant soon after its formation. For the next couple of years Munger toured Europe with his protégé, Marshall W. ‘Major’ Taylor, and let his partners manage his tire business.

On July 8, 1901, the New York Times reported:

“Mrs. L.D.F. Munger Seriously Hurt

“PLAINFIELD, N.J. July 7. – Mrs. Munger, wife of L.D.F. Munger, a wealthy rubber-tire manufacturer of New Brunswick, fell down the stairs leading from the dining hall of the Hotel Imperial this evening as she was about to return home. She and her husband had come to Plainfield from New Brunswick in an automobile. The stairs were unlighted. Mrs. Munger weighs over 200 pounds and she fell all the way down. Dr. J. Hervey Buchanan was called. He said that besides a broken collarbone she has sustained serious internal injuries.”

On July 9 Mrs. Munger sued the hotel for $10,000.

When he wasn’t busy touring, Munger competed in various celebrity cycling events in an around Manhattan where he met another cycling enthusiast named Clifford Colby Moore (b. Feb 20, 1875 – d. April 16, 1931). Moore was a Columbia-educated physician who had recently had the good fortune to marry Mabel Jay Nathans, the daughter of millionaire circus man John Jay Nathans, a former partner of P.T. Barnum.

Moore and Munger proposed the establishment of an auto-related partnership and in 1903 organized Moore & Munger in order to furnish coachwork for imported high-class chassis.

The firm was incorporated in early 1904 with $5,000 (the NY Times states $10,000) in capital with the following officers/directors; George W. Moore, Pres.; C. Colgate Moore. Sec.; L. De F. Munger, superintendent.

George W. Moore (b. July 4, 1846 - d. May 24, 1912) was Clifford’s father, and was a direct descendent of Jacob Mohr, who with his brother, Christian, came from Holland and settled in Dutchess County, New York in 1687.

At that time most high-grade chassis were shipped from Europe without coachwork, and the first thing the partners needed to establish was a body-building and finishing operation. A four-story factory was leased across the street from De Witt Clinton Park one block away from the Twelfth Ave docks of the Hudson River at 602-604 W. 52nd St. and Munger set about staffing it with experienced carriage builders, who were in abundant supply at the time.

At that time New York City was considered to be the automobile center of the country and most of the city's automobile retailers were located along Broadway north of 45th St., which became popularly known as Automobile Row. Consequently, Manhattan's auto-related suppliers were located nearby in the neighborhood running west of Broadway to the Hudson River, primarily between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.

Moore & Munger is known to have bodied Knight-Davidson, Lozier, Marmon, Peerless, Thomas, American FIAT, Benz, FIAT, Panhard, and Renault chassis.

An early 1904 issue of the Automobile included the following item:

“Moore & Munger, of New York, NY; to deal in automobiles; capital, $5000. Incorporators; C. Colgate Moore and L. de F. Munger

“A New York City factory for the manufacture of aluminum automobile bodies, automobile tops, fenders, hoods, steps and similar parts has been opened by the Moore-Munger Co., at 602 West 52nd Street. The plant has been equipped in a complete and modern way with all the necessary equipment...”

From Racing with Lozier: a Memoir by Ralph Mulford, Automobile Quarterly Vol 7 no 4:

“Along the end of 1904 the first Lozier cars had been assembled at the Ball Manufacturing Co. up in Stamford, Connecticut. Five chassis were eventually built there, and for the next few months we gave them a thorough testing, making whatever changes were necessary. We finally handed them over to the coachbuilding firm of Moore & Munger in New York, and they were soon on display in the new Lozier showroom opposite Grand Central Station in 42nd Street.”

J.M. Quinby also supplied production bodies to Lozier, who at the time were located in Plattsburg, New York, and along with Moore & Munger were one of the first firms to utilize aluminum for their bodies.

The firm’s listing in the 1908 Motor Encyclopedia follows:

“Moore & Munger Co.—602 W. 52d St., New York City. Mfrs. wood and metallic bodies, dashes and fenders, hoods.”

In 1908 the Moores were listed as directors of the recently organized Walter Christie Automobile Company of New York City. Formed to manufacture motors, engines, automobiles, carriages and trucks of Christie’s design it was capitalized at $400,000. The incorporators were Van S. Howard, 308 West Fifty-eighth Street; C. Colgate Moore and F.W. Moore, 602 West Fifty-second Street; Morris Gest, 207 West Forty-second Street; Lewis P. Strang, 1942 Broadway; Samuel Bogart, 44 Barclay St; and J.B. Lozier, all of New York.

Christie proposed to make a front-wheel-drive taxicab, but after four prototypes were produced, production was shifted to the manufacture of heavy-duty two-wheel tractors that were used to convert horse-drawn fire equipment into front-wheel drive fire apparatus. In 1911 Christie established the Front Drive Motor Co. in Hoboken, New Jersey to concentrate on the manufacture of his popular two-wheel power plants.

Period New York State registration records reveal that Munger lived at 225 W. 80th St. and drove a Stearns automobile, NY Plate #59746. 

The January 1, 1911 New York Times gave a preview of the upcoming Importers' Auto Salon:

“The Importers' Automobile Salon, at the Hotel Astor, Jan. 2 to 7.

“The Renault exhibit will include a polished chassis of the 25-35 horsepower American Special, a polished chassis of the new 35-45 horse power type and a stock chassis of the 10-12 horse power Monobloc casting town car type. The 35-45 horse power has a new shaped bonnet, a new one-piece rear axle, the valves are enclosed and the bore and stroke are 130 by 160 – 20 more than engines of the former 35-45 horse power type. All three are four-cylinder engines.

“The complete Renault cars to be show included a two-cylinder 8-10 horse power voiturette runabout; a six-cylinder 50 horse power car, with a cabriolet body; and a four-cylinder 35-45 horse power fore-door limousine, the latter two with bodies by Moore & Munger; a four-cylinder 12-16 horse power fore-door limousine, with body made by the Bridgeport Vehicle Company, and 25-35 horse power American Special, with a limousine body by Demarest & Co."

The January 19, 1911 New York Times included the following preview of the New York Auto Show:

"The Cole-Stratton Company is showing at the Palace Show, among other 1911 Cole 30 models, a very racy speed roadster, body work for which was done by Moore & Munger. The snap and style shown in this roadster make this car a very attractive featured of the Cole 30 exhibit. The name ‘Special Speedster’, is rather pat, in view of the many racing victories of the Cole 30 in the past year.”

The May 26, 1912 New York Times included the following obituary:

"George Washington Moore, beloved father of Clifford Colgate Moore on May 24, 1912 after a brief illness of pneumonia.

"George Washington Moore, 74 years old, who a generation ago was known in New York City as "The Ice King," died yesterday at his residence, 263 West Eighth St. He was in his younger days known as one of the horsemen who trotted their animals on the Vanderbilt Mile on Jerome St. He was one of the pioneers in the automobile business."

When Maurice J. Rothschild withdrew from business in 1912, Moore & Munger took over the bodying of Benz automobiles for the Manhattan Benz distributor and were best known for their work on French chassis, Renault in particular.

Production bodies were also built for Palmer-Singer and Lozier, and Moore & Munger are thought to have provided coachwork to A.S. Flandrau and other high-end Manhattan retailers who re-badged the work as their own.

In the early 1900s prolific inventor Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914) established a workshop in Brookline, Massachusetts in hopes of developing a sleeve-valve engine. Between 1902 and 1904 she patented a number of improvements to sleeve valve engines and in 1903 was issued a patent for an automatic boring tool for boring or planing concave or cylindrical surfaces.

The New Incorporations column of the June 27, 1912 issue of the Automobile included a notice of the formation of the K-D Motor Co.:

“New York City - K-D Motor Co., (Knight-Davidson Motor Co.); Capital $100,000; to manufacture motors; Incorporators: Margaret E. Knight, Anne F. Davidson, Beatrice M. Davidson.”

In 1913 Moore & Munger manufactured the rakish touring body for the Charles R. Greuter-designed Knight-Davidson prototype. Margaret E. Knight displayed the finished vehicle at that fall’s Boston Automobile Show hoping to license her sleeve-valve engine to an established automobile manufacturer.

Knight held a number of automobile related patents, many of which were assigned to the Knight-Davidson Motor Co. of Saratoga, New York (Anne F. Davidson, Beatrice M. Davidson, two wealthy relatives from Saratoga Springs financed the enterprise).

Unfortunately Knight passed away before any licensing agreements could be established and no further vehicles are known to have been constructed with her engine. Margaret E. was unrelated to Charles Knight, the inventor of a sleeve-valve engine that did go on to series production.

Robert V. Olson was Moore & Munger’s chief designer and also served as superintendent of its body shop. At that time Olson taught a night course in carriage drafting and construction at New York’s Cooper Union that was similar to that offered by Andrew F. Johnson at the NCBA-affiliated New York Technical School of Carriage Drafting.

Olson’s most famous graduate was Rudy Creteur (1904-1978), who later worked for Locke and Rollson/Rollston. Olson also served as vice-president of the Architectural Alumni Association of the Cooper Union.

At the January 1915 New York Automobile Show which was held at Grand Central Palace, Moore & Munger exhibited a limousine body on a Marmon chassis.

The front page of the January 25, 1914 New York Times included the following:


$100,000 Destroyed and Two Firemen Hurt.

“Nearly one hundred automobile enthusiasts will have to postpone putting their 1914 motor cars into commission as a result of a fire which started in the Moore Munger automobile factory and garage at 602 West Fifty-second Street last night.

"Deputy Chief ‘Smokey Joe’ Martin ... found that the four-story automobile factory extending from Fifty-second Street half-way back toward Fifty-first Street was ablaze above the first floor and that a two-story automobile garage facing Fifty-first Street was ablaze on the second story.

"‘And there goes a hundred thousand dollars in high-grade French cars,’ said L.D.F. Munger, one of the factory owners, who had come down from his home at Seventy-ninth Street and Broadway, after receiving word that the factory was afire. Mr. Munger explained that the fresh start of the fire was due to the fact that the flames had penetrated to the paint shop on the fourth floor.

"‘And up there’ he said, ‘we were finishing up imported cars brought here in the rough. The practice of late has been for American buyers to buy the chassis of each car abroad and have the body built in this country.’

"‘We built no cars in our factory. We merely built bodies to be fitted on the chasses as they came to us from the Custom House. We have insurance, I don’t know just how much. The cars destroyed belonged to customers almost entirely, while the bodies we were building for them belonged, of course, to us. Nearly every car of the hundred-odd cars in the place was of a high-grade imported type.’

"A.W. Snyder, a watchman, who discovered the fire at 8 o’clock, saved six automobiles before the flames drove him away."

The April 11, 1915 Indianapolis Star contained the following item:

“E. Moskovics, Commercial - Manager of Nordyke & Marmon Company, Finds Business Conditions Good Everywhere

“We sold four cars at retail at the Boston show, among them a ‘41’ limousine with a special Moore & Munger body, the price being $5,600. There was an unusual agents' interest and we signed many dealers' contracts and arranged for their supply of cars.”

Two months later the June 1915 issue of Automobile Topics reported:

“Moore & Munger Plant is Sold.

“The automobile body-building plant of Moore & Munger at 602 West Fifty- Second Street, New York City, has been purchased by the Universal Auto Painting Company. The latter will continue the body-building work of Moore & Munger and will also do general repairing and painting work. The firm of Moore & Munger went into bankruptcy several months ago, due, it was said, to the losses sustained in the failure of the Palmer Singer and Benz Companies in New York."

As it turned out the plant had been sold to Universal Auto Painting, however, Moore & Munger had not declared bankruptcy and they successfully sued Automobile Topics’ parent company, Motor Trades Publishing for libel and were awarded an undisclosed amount. The decision was reaffirmed that November on appeal.

Universal Auto Painting predates Moore & Munger’s 1915 dissolution as it was active sometime before 1913. Following the sale, Louis de Franklin Munger became associated with Universal Auto Painting as vice-president and plant superintendent.

On June 20, 1917 the New York Times reported:

“Louis de F. Munger of 140 West Sixty-ninth street, New York City, vice-president of the Universal Automobile Painting Company, scored a victory, June 19, over the Perlman Rim Corporation for an alleged infringement of a patent filed by him in 1899.

“United States Judge Manton upheld Munger's contention and ordered the $8,000,000 concern to account for all its sales of the infringed article before a special master, who would fix the amount of royalties to which the inventor might be entitled.

“The patent involved covered two distinct inventions, according to the court's opinion. One related to the manner of securing rubber tires to metallic leases or bands, and the other to securing these bases to the wheels of cars.”

On June 24, 1917 the New York Times reported on a further development in the case:

“Rim Suits Against Twenty; Munger’s Attorney Says He Will Bring Other Actions.

“Twenty demountable automobile rim suits will follow the one won by Louis de F. Munger Wednesday from the Perlman Rim Corporation, on the ground of patent infringements, according to William A. Redding of 38 Park Row his attorney. Munger was widely known as a bicycle racer in the days when that sport was prominent, and if the higher court sustains the decision in this suit he will be raised from the position of one who has to borrow money to carry on his legal fight to affluence.

“‘We expect to sue without delay every company that has been making demountable rims in the period covered by the period of our decision,’ said Mr. Redding, ‘and our information is there are not less than twenty, counting large and small concerns. We claim that royalty is due on 5,000,000 demountable rims, all told, and if the courts award us only 25 cents a rim the total would be a tidy sum, but if we receive what Perlman did when he won his rim suit from the Standard Welding Company, said to be $1.50 a set, the amount would be much greater.

“‘Munger’s patent, issued in 1899, expires last September, and under the law we are only permitted to recover for six years prior to the date of expiration, and from the time that elapses from September until the bringing of the suit must be subtracted.

“‘A representative of the Perlman Rim Corporations said his company would appeal the case. ‘In any event,’ he asserted, ‘our patent stands, as its validity is not questioned in this case.’”

Munger later filed similar suits against Firestone and B.F. Goodrich, although the final disposition is not recorded.

In 1923 Munger invented a ‘Radio-Four Way Switch Plug’ for which he received US patent no.173576. The ‘ornamental design for telephone plugs’ was assigned to the Four Way Company, Springfield, Massachusetts.

On July 31, 1929, the New York Times published Munger’s obituary:

“Louis De Franklin Munger, inventor of the demountable automobile rim and manufacturer of bicycles, died of heart disease at the Dauphin Hotel, (Broadway & W. 66th – 67th).”

Clifford Colgate Moore and Mabel Jay Nathans divorced in 1913 and on January 4th, 1914, Moore married Marguerite Augusta Charlotte Fuerst de Werbrouck. Clifford Colgate Moore passed away on April 16, 1931.

After the January 24th, 1914 fire (which occurred just two weeks after Moore’s second marriage), the top two floors of the Moore & Munger building were razed and the building rebuilt as a two-story garage.

After Universal Auto Painting went out of business the building became the home of the SOS Cinema Supply Corp. The building was more recently acquired by Viacom and form’s part of its Eleventh Ave. Comedy Central television studios.

Despite having the same name, Moore & Munger (#1), automobile body builders, were unrelated to Moore & Munger (#2), another New York City-based firm that manufactured and distributed clay, wax and petroleum-based modeling and paper coating materials. That firm was founded by brothers Henry C. and Max Munger in 1900 and was a reorganization of Smith & Munger a late 19th century manufacturer of colors and chemicals.

Sometime around 1903 Moore & Munger purchased a kaolin (clay) mine in Dry Branch, Georgia from the American Clay Company. At that time their office was located near the Brooklyn Bridge at 99 John St. They later relocated to 29 Broadway and by 1928 had established a more permanent office at 33 Rector St. For many years Moore & Munger (#2) distributed modeling clay to Manhattan and Detroit’s automobile design studios.

The firm eventually branched out into real estate (Stratton Mountain, Vermont) and oil exploration, relocating to Plainfield, New Jersey, then to Connecticut. They were eventually purchased by Schumann Sasol AG, a large German wax producer and in 2004 were renamed to Sasol Wax Americas, Inc.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






Racing with Lozier: a Memoir by Ralph Mulford, Automobile Quarterly, Vol 7 no 4

From Indianapolis of Today - pub 1896

Marshall W. Taylor - The Fastest Bicycle Rider In the World - pub 1928

Andrew Ritchie - Major Taylor - pub 1996

Marlene Targ Brill - Marshall "Major" Taylor - pub 2007

Todd Balf - Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight to be the World's Fastest Human Being - pub 2008

James Lewis Lucas - Dies and Die Making - pub 1897

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

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