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C.T. Silver
C.T. Silver Motor Company, 1912-1919; C.T Silver Inc., 1914-1919; New York, New York
Associated Builders
Silver had satellite branches in Newark, New Jersey and Brooklyn, Bronx and Long Island, New York

C.T. Silver, Metropolitan New York City automobile dealer and part-time body designer, is mainly remembered for inspiring the famous Kissel Gold Bug Speedster. At the height of his career Silver ran one of Manhattan’s most prestigious automobile dealerships and developed a reputation for producing reasonably priced European styled speedsters on mid-priced Detroit chassis.

Silver’s shops turned out small numbers of custom-built bodies on Apperson, Chalmers, Dort, Kissel, Overland, Peerless, Willys and Willys-Knight chassis. His organization also produced small numbers of co-branded “Silver Specials”; the Silver-Knight., Silver-Peerless, Silver-Apperson and Silver-Kissel.

Conover Thomas Silver (b.18??-d. March 3, 1929) was born in Little Silver, Monmouth County, New Jersey, an ocean-side resort community located near Red Bank.

Nothing is known of his early life aside from the fact that he started his automotive career as a Buick salesman at their Brooklyn, New York sales branch which was located at 42 Flatbush Ave.

The Gossip of the Automobilists and Notes of the Trade column in the October 10, 1909 issue of the New York Times announced that:

“C.T. Silver, formerly with the Buick Motor Company, has severed his connections with that concern to take the Brooklyn Agency for the Overland Car. He will have control of the Kings and Queens County districts.”

Overland’s Brooklyn branch was located next door to Buick’s at 62 Flatbush Ave. and within the year Silver had become manager of the firm’s Manhattan sales and service depot whose grand opening was announced in the September 25, 1910 New York Times:

"What promises to be one of the most interesting and prominent openings of an automobile salesroom in Manhattan will occur to-morrow, when the Overland Sales Company will throw open its quarters at 1599 and 1601 Broadway, New York, for public inspection. The show room is magnificently equipped with a complete line of cars, consisting of seven different 1911 Overland models. The entire two-story-and-basement building will be used exclusively for the sale and repair of Overlands: C.T. Silver will act as manager of the salesroom.”

At that time the Overland Sales Company of New York was associated with the New Jersey Overland Company at 228 Halsey St. Newark, New Jersey, and the March 26, 1911 New York Times Automobile column announced a further expansion:

"Thoroughly abreast of the times and confident in the knowledge of having anticipated the demand for Overland cars this season, C.T. Silver, of the Overland Sales Company of New York is branching out in this territory on Long Island with a string of sub-agencies”

A few days later the New York Times announced Silver’s April 8, 1911 marriage to Elsie Ablowich, daughter of Alfred Ablowich, owner of the Waumbek Manufacturing Co., a Manhattan garment manufacturer located at 714 Broadway. In the late 1800s Elsie’s grandfather had founded J. Ablowich & Co., manufacturers of shirts and cloaks at 403 Broadway, and her three uncles - Israel, Louts and Percy Ablowich - were all involved in the city’s garment industry.

During 1912 Silver took the first steps towards organizing his own organization, forming the C.T. Silver Motor Company, Incorporated: Conover T. Silver, President and Director; James A. Bell, 1760 Broadway, Secretary and Director. Manhattan Office at 1599 and 1601 Broadway, Brooklyn office at 1295 Bedford Ave.

Shortly thereafter Silver was named official Manhattan distributor for Overland and took over the automaker’s Manhattan, Brooklyn and Newark branches. In early 1913 Silver formed one of the nation’s first auto finance companies, the Overland Part Payment Company.

The January 5, 1913 New York Times reported:

“C.T. Silver, the Overland agent In New York, has evolved a scheme to aid those desire to purchase cars on the part-payment system. The customer pays half of the catalogue price in cash, and 10 per cent is added to the remained, which is then paid off in six monthly installments. The purchased is required to maintain insurance on the car, the title to which remains with the company until the final payment.”

On January 16, 1913 the New York Times announced that:

“The Cross & Brown Company has leased the two four-story buildings, 1601 Broadway and 213 and 215 West Forty-eighth Street, to the C.T. Silver Motor Company.”

Silver must have been an extraordinary salesman as within the year he had made a deal with the PeerlessMotor Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio to take over its New York City branch. The December, 28, 1913 New York Times announced:

“After January 1, Peerless cars will be handled in this territory by the C.T. Silver Motor Company, distributors here of the Willys-Overland product, which it will handle as well. The organization will take up its quarters in the Peerless building on Broadway, just above Fifth-sixth Street.”

The Peerless and adjoining A.T. Demarest buildings were designed by the famous New York architect, Francis H. Kimball and constructed in 1909 in collaboration with consulting engineers Purdy & Henderson and George A. Fuller Co., builders. Located at the southeast corner of Broadway and 57th Street, the architecturally harmonious 9-story structures remain standing today and are listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The L-shaped Peerless building included a Broadway showroom and a 57ths Street service entrance.

The January 4, 1914 issue of The Automobile explained their rational for giving Silver their Manhattan operation:

“Peerless Has Adopted New Selling Plan
Syndicate Now Handles High Grade Product in New York and Chicago.
Cuts Overhead Expense
Step Follows Improvements and Added Cost in Building of Car.

“Expectations of a change in policy by the Peerless Motor Car Company as a result of the entrance into the business of men who have been extremely successful in another field have been realized by the adoption of syndicate selling for New York and Chicago.

‘”It is our aim in taking this step to readjust the proportion between car selling and manufacturing expense in Peerless cars,’ said E. J. Kulas, general manager of sales of the Peerless Motor Car Company. ‘We have found that selling expense generally in the high-grade motor car business has been too high. And so far as the Peerless Motor Car Company is concerned we are going to correct that condition if we can.’

“Sales Are Limited.

“Because of its high quality and necessarily high price the sales of Peerless cars are naturally somewhat limited. When the cost of operating and maintaining a large sales and service building in a desirable location falls only on those sales it is a very considerable item. But if many other cars are sold with the same equipment the overhead cost is much reduced.

“This new arrangement will enable the buyer to select from a larger stock of automobiles the one most desirable for his purpose, as each of these companies will carry gasoline cars of lower price, and the Chicago house also has a line of electrics. It is well known that the dealers’ margin of profit on automobiles is lower than what would be considered fair in any other retail business.

“Conditions have changed in the motor car business. The big demand has been supplied and it now becomes necessary for the manufacturer to meet these changing conditions. The plan adopted by the Peerless Motor Car Company is a step in the right direction and will be copied by others.

“No Reduction in Price.

“A reduction-in the price of Peerless cars is not thought of; in fact, it is entirely impossible. The Peerless car is the most expensive to build of any manufactured, either in America or Europe. It includes costly features of design adopted to secure maximum efficiency without regard to price.

“During the past few years the Peerless Company has been developing through researches in its metallurgical laboratories and advanced heat- heat treating processes, a line of motor car steels which it uses exclusively and which in strength and wearing quality are far superior to any previously known in the industry.

“These steels have greatly increased the life of the Peerless car, but they have also increased the cost of production. This year manufacturing cost has also been increased by the addition of nearly $400 worth of equipment.

“This steadily mounting manufacturing cost has made necessary a reduction in expense somewhere. And it seemed to us that to reduce building overhead which in no way affects the satisfaction of the purchaser in his car, was the place to make it.’

“In Chicago, John R, Buck, general manager of the Peerless Motor Car Company, will join the McDuffee Organization with all the men who have been most successful in developing the Peerless Chicago business and In New York the corresponding members of the branch, staff will he taken into the C T. Silver Company.”

Peerless’ Manhattan branch was associated with the Peerless Newark Branch located at 37 William St.

The January 15, 1914 issue of Motor Record announced an addition to the Silver Company’s board of directors:

“Oathout Becomes Silver’s Partner.

“Charles W. Oathout, at one time the Jackson agent in New York, has acquired an interest in the rights of the C.T. Silver Motor Co., the Overland agent, which recently took over the Peerless agency also and with it the palatial Peerless branch on Upper Broadway. Oathout, who has been elected treasurer of the Silver company and will also serve as sales manager, which indicates that he will take an active part in the business.”

From the January 31, 1914 New York Times:

“Arrangements have been perfected by the C.T. Silver Motor Company, Peerless and Overland distributors, by which the representation for those cars in New Jersey will be taken over by the C.L. Fitzgerald Motor Company, which has been formed for that purpose. In the new company which will also take over Mr. Silver’s Newark branch, will be C.L. Fitzgerald, Herbert H. De Wilde, and William J. McAvoy.

Overland introduced the all-new Willys-Knight in late 1914. The new vehicle was slated to compete against other premium American cars such as Packard and Cadillac and its radiator shell was uncomfortably similar to that of the Packard. The Willys-Knight was also the nation’s first popularly-priced automobile quipped with the Knight sleeve-valve engine.

To drum up business for the new car, Silver put up two huge banners on the Peerless building advertising the $2750 1915 Willys-Knight that could be seen for blocks. The upper banner was situated so that it could be seen from Times Square.

He also produced a small number of custom-bodied Willys-Knight roadsters that he sold as Silver Knights. The custom turtle-decked roadster was built in his own shop and included cut-down doors, a distinctive folding Victoria top, and downsized headlamps that resembled a backwards bullet.

The February 7, 1915 News and Notes of the Automobile Trade column of the New York Times reported:

“Since the automobile show C.T. Silver had the marble showroom of the C.T. Silver Motor Company dressed up and has been holding a special exhibition of bodies fitted to chassis of the Overland, Peerless, and Willys-Knight cars. There are some beautiful expressions of the body builder’s art on display. Mr. Silver has invested $75,000 in these special bodies, to illustrate how individual tastes can be worked out.”

The April 18, 1915 New York Times included a picture of one of Silver’s first custom-bodied vehicles. The pictured runabout included Silver’s novel “seat in a drawer”. The caption follows:

“Here’s a runabout that can carry six passengers.

“This is the latest special runabout body shown by the C.T. Silver Motor Company on a six-cylinder Overland chassis. Although it is normally a two-passenger body, folding seats, two in the rear deck, and one of a sliding type at each side above the running boards, give a load capacity of six.”

Silver’s concealed outrigger seats were found on many of his custom-designed Overland, Willys-Knight, Apperson and Kissel roadsters. The simple, yet clever, design enabled occasional passengers to ride on the outside of the body on a folding seat that emerged from a drawer on each side of the body. The design would appear on a number of custom-bodied vehicles during the next decade, and was included on a number of Marmon and Paige (Paige-Daytona) production roadsters.

Silver started building and designing custom bodies soon after he moved into the massive Peerless building in 1914. The upper floors of the structure had all the necessary equipment need for custom body building and Silver’s craftsmen were culled from Manhattan’s best carriage building houses.

Most of his custom-bodied vehicles featured distinctive radiators that helped to disguise the chassis. Between 1914 and 1918 Silver filed 12 patent applications, half for radiator shell designs, the others for various body-related items such as fenders, hoods, convertible tops and body designs.

The October 17, 1915 New York Times included a picture of another unusual Silver design:

“Novel Automobile On the Lines of a River Launch.

“One of the most unusual bodies to make its appearance on “Automobile Row” is show above. It is a boat body on an Overland chassis, now on view in C.T. Silver's salesrooms. The body is built of alternate two-inch strips of mahogany and white holly, and the deck is in birds-eye maple. Mounted on the circular radiator is a ship’s bell, while a nickel propeller serves to keep the spare wheel in place. The front bumpers represent anchors and those at the rear, oars. The upholstery is pigskin.”

The December 1915 issue of The Rudder also featured the vehicle:

“A Land Runabout of Nautical Design

“Cruising down Broadway recently, the lookout man megaphoned that there was a peculiar-looking craft at anchor on the port bow, so we instanter put over the helm and drew alongside. She proved to be the Silver Bird, a neat little runabout of about 12 feet length, specially built for the С. Т. Silver Motor Company, on an Overland six-cylinder chassis. Seeing that her appearance, while not strictly shipshape, was of elegance and along nautical lines, we decided to give her a berth in the December Rudder.

“Her hull is planked, not painted, in alternate layers of white holly and mahogany, while she is decked forward for three parts of her length with the same wood, this also forming a housing for the engine, which is installed right forward. The cockpit and after deck is railed off. The spare wheel aft is held in position by a real bronze, 14-inch diameter propeller, and she carries an anchor on either bow. On the forward deck is a searchlight and electric signal bell.

“Putting all joking to one side, it occurred to us that an automobile along these lines would interest yachtsmen, particularly power owners. With the detachable wheels removed, she would not altogether look out of place in davits, in cases where the owner of a long-distance cruiser desired to tour the district when putting in to strange ports and thus combine automobiling with the pleasure of yachting. So, in future, we can expect one sport to help the other in this manner, instead of throttling each other.”

The March 16, 1916 issue of the New York Times announced that Silver had acquired a new Brooklyn salesroom:

“Brooklyn Auto Building Lease

“A new automobile building to be erected in Brooklyn on the south side of St. Marks Avenue, fronting 62 feet, 140 feet west of Franklin Avenue, has been leased to the C.T. Silver Motors Company for a term of years at an aggregate rental of $50,000. It will be used by the Overland Automobile Company as a service station.”

During early 1916 the Automobile announced a number of management changes at Silver’s Brooklyn and Newark satellites as well as the addition of a new Bronx satellite:

“Seeback N. Y. Chevrolet Mgr.—L. J. Seeback, formerly manager of the Brooklyn branch of the C. T. Silver Motor Co., New York City, and later of the Newark branch, has been appointed manager of the New York City sales of the Chevrolet Motor Co.

“Scharps Promoted—C. E. T. Scharps, who recently joined the C. T. Silver Motor Co., New York City, as advertising manager and assistant to Mr. Silver, has been promoted to the position of manager of the Newark, N. J., branch. Mr. Silver, who handles the Overland, Willys-Knight and Peerless business in this territory, has also made G. Franklin Bailey director of branches. W. E. White has been put in charge of the service department.

“Charles Rifenberg, who for a time managed the service station of the King Motor Co., will superintend the service station of the Silver Motor Co., Overland distributor in Bronx. W. J. Taylor has joined the Washburne Corp., Moline-Knight distributor, as sales manager and efficiency expert. Mr. Taylor entered the Overland company in 1914 as efficiency engineer. Last year he joined the Silver Motor Co. and continued on the same work.”

Silver’s Newark branch was run by an associated firm, the C.L. Fitzgerald Motor Company. During the same period Silver became the Manhattan distributor for the Dort Motor Car Co. of Flint, Michigan. A longtime associate of William Crapo Durant, Josiah Dallas Dort resigned his position as vice-president of Chevrolet in 1913 and started production of the Dort in 1915.

The front page of the July 16, 1916 issue of the New York Times announced the death of Paul Smith, a vice-president and sales manager of the Chalmers Motor Co. of Detroit:

“PAUL SMITH SUICIDE BY LEAP AT BILTMORE; General Manager of Chalmers Motor Car Co. Jumps from the Thirteenth Floor. HAD CLOSED $6,250,000 DEAL Wife Recently Summoned from Detroit Because Husband Was Suffering from Despondency.”

“Paul Smith, Vice President and General Manager of the Chalmers Motor Car Company of Detroit, Mich., killed himself in a fit of nervous despondency yesterday morning shortly after 10 o'clock by leaping from the window of his room on the thirteenth floor of the Hotel Biltmore.”

The $6,250,000 deal mentioned in the Times was negotiated between the late Mr. Smith and Conover T. Silver. Another article in the Automobile column of the same day’s paper gave further details:

“C.T. Silver announced last week that he had given up the Overland agency and that he had closed a $6,250,000 contract with the Chalmers Motor Company to handle the Chalmers car in this territory after Aug. 1. In the announcement of the new arrangement was the following: "The deal by which Mr. Silver takes over the Chalmers was engineered and closed by Paul Smith, Vice President and Sales Manager of the Chalmers Motor Company. Mr. Smith states that it is the most important move yet made by his company, and that Mr. Silver will have 100 per cent co-operation from every department of the Chalmers Company.” Mr. Silver will take over the Chalmers line at once. The territory which he will have is approximately the same as that in which he has worked during the last six years. It takes in Greater New York, Long Island, Staten Island, a big part of New Jersey, and a slice of Connecticut, with a branch in Bridgeport. He will also take care of the entire Atlantic seaboard of Chalmers parts. The policy of the Willys-Overland Company for some time has been to have branches in the big centers instead of big agencies, and it is expected by the local trade that steps to do this in New York City will be taken at once.”

Silver wasted no time and by the middle of October had a couple of custom-bodied Chalmers in his Broadway showroom. An elegant-looking Chalmers town car was featured in the October 22, 1916 issue of the New York Times:

“Brougham In Accordance With New Auto Nomenclature.

“Brougham” as a type of car has been loosely used by manufacturers, but now its meaning is fixed by the new nomenclature of the Society of Automobile Engineers. It is a “limousine with no roof over the driver’s seat”. “Town car,” much employed for this type, is not included in the classification of the S.A.E. The brougham shown above was designed and built by C.T. Silver. It is mounted on a Chalmers “35-B” chassis, and is finished in French gray and upholstered in gray cloth. Bullet headlights and a massive foreign type radiator are characteristics.”

Less than a year after Silver’s $6 million dollar Chalmers’ distribution deal was announced, the May 1917 issue of Motor Record reported that Silver had been dropped as the Metropolitan New York Chalmers distributor:

“A direct branch of the Chalmers Motor Co., of Detroit, will handle the selling of Chalmers cars in the Metropolitan territory, including New York City. Steps base been taken for the incorporation of the Chalmers Sales Co., which will be the name of the new branch. C.H. King, who has been with the Chalmers company since only last July, will be head of both the sales and service departments. Headquarters of the branch will he maintained at 1826 Broadway, where retail sales will be continued. Since last July the Chalmers New York territory has been in the hands of C. T. Silver, who also handles the Dort car. Mr. Silver will confine his attention exclusively to the sale of that car for the time being.”

In 1917 Silver acquired two new vehicles lines, Kissel and Apperson. Manufactured in Hartford, Wisconsin since 1906, the Kissel Motor Car Company manufactured high quality “Kissel Kar” passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The Apperson was another high quality chassis manufactured in Kokomo, Indiana by Edgar and Elmer Apperson, two brother who in 1896 had helped found Haynes-Apperson.

Silver announced that:

“The Kissel will be marketed in conjunction with the Dort and Silver-Apperson and like the latter will be modified to meet the requirements of the high class customer”.

Silver showed three open custom-bodied Kissels - a speedster, tourster and 7-passenger touring – which were advertised as “Kissel Kar Silver Specials” at the January 1918 New York Auto Show. The four-passenger, two-door tourster was equipped with sliding front seats, a novel idea at the time.

Also at the show was a Silver-boded Apperson V-8 speedster that was nearly identical to the Silver-Special Kissel speedster. Kissel’s body engineer and designer, Fritz Werner, utilized Silver’s original Silver-Apperson speedster blueprints as a starting point for the production version of the Kissel Speedster which enter into production later that year as a 1919 model.

Although the Kissel and Apperson speedsters bore identical coachwork from the cowl-back, Silver designed different radiator shells, hoods and fenders for the two makes and they all included “C.T. Silver, Inc., New York” hubcaps. While the Apperson was very attractive, the double-drop frame of the Kissel created a more sporting look, and its chrome yellow monochromatic paint scheme, made it the hit of the show.

The speedster, painted in a monochromatic chrome yellow, was the inspiration for the Kissel “Gold Bug” speedster that was later manufactured by Kissel. In fact all three of the Silver Special show cars made it into production on a limited scale, and were included in Kissel’s 1918-1919 catalogs as Silver Specials.

Both speedsters were equipped with wire wheels, Houcks on the Kissel and Frayers on the Apperson, a decision that Silver would soon regret.

Apperson added two Silver Specials to their 1919 lineup; the roadster as seen at the New York Auto show, and a touring loosely based on the Silver-bodied Kissel touring. Both vehicles shared a 130”wheelbase 33.8 hp V-8-powered chassis and the Silver Special Touring sold for $3500, $1000 more than the normal 7-passenger touring.

On January 12, 1918, the New York Times reported on a law suit initiated by the American Wire Wheel Corp. against C.T. Silver:

“Suit Over Auto Wheels; Wire Corporation Accuses C.T. Silver of Infringement.

“Litigation over the use of automobile wire wheels which, it is alleged, infringe the basic patent rights held by the Wire Wheel Corporation of America was instituted yesterday in the United States District Court by the corporation against C.T. Silver of 1760 Broadway. The suit is in the nature of an injunction against the use of the Frayer wheel on the Silver-Apperson cars which are being exhibited in the Grand Central Palace show.”

The Frayer Wire Wheel was named after its designer, Lee Frayer, and manufactured in Columbus and Springfield Ohio by a succession of firms, called the Frayer Demountable Wire Wheel Co., the F. & H. Wire Wheel Co., and the Phelps Mfg. Co. Frayer was eventually sued by the Wire Wheel Corporation of America for patent infringement, and any firm found using his products was included in the legal action.

Silver abandoned his Dort distributorship in late 1917 and the February 1918 Motor Record announced his successor:

“The New York Dort agency, formerly handled by the CT Silver Motor Co., has passed to a new dealer, FW Wright, Inc., 225 West 57th street.“

The June 16, 1918 New York Times ‘Auto Trade Notes’ column revealed more changes in store for the Silver organization:

“An important change in the Automobile Row section around Fifty-seventh Street will be made on July 5, when C.T. Silver will move from his large quarters at 1760 Broadway to 509 Fifth Avenue, between Forty-second and forty-third Streets. He will have the use in the rear of a private entrance from Forty-third street, giving ingress and egress to cars. He will display the latest models of the Silver-Apperson and Kissel Kars.”

The Wire Wheel Corporations suit against Silver was amicably adjudicated by US District Court Judge Hand as reported by the August 15, 1918 issue of The Automobile:

“Wire Wheel Corp. Gains Decision

“NEW YORK, Aug. 8—The Wire Wheel Corp. of America has received a decision in the matter of its proceedings to restrain C. T. Silver of New York as agent of the Silver Apperson car from selling or otherwise disposing of a number of Fryer wire wheels purchased by the Apperson company from the Phelps Mfg. Co. It was held by Judge Hand of the U. S. District Court that there seemed to be but small doubt but what the Freyer wheel infringed upon the triple spoke patent, but that inasmuch as Mr. Silver had but a few cars fitted with these wheels on hand and no irreparable injury was likely to be suffered by the Wire Wheel Corp. he would deny a motion for a preliminary injunction if the defendant filed a bond in the sum of $2,000 to cover such damage as might be shown to have been sustained by such infringement at the final hearing of the case.”

Soon after Silver’s move to Fifth Avenue he rapidly downsized his automotive empire, and unlike many other early motormen, Silver left the business solvent and at the top of his game.

Although he was no longer involved in automotive sales or custom bodies, Silver remained active in the automotive real estate business for a few more years.

The October 26, 1920 New York Times reported on a recent acquisition:

“Buys Brooklyn Motor Building

“The Packard Motor Car sales and service building, located at the junction of Flatbush and Eighth Avenues and St. John’s Place, and facing the main entrance to Prospect Park, Brooklyn, has been purchased by C.T. Silver, a well-known automobile distributor.”

Silver had been pouring his automotive profits into real estate which turned out to be a wise move, considering the massive losses experienced by automotive retailers in the post-war depression of 1919-1920.

Silver invested in a number of non-automotive properties, which included a number of large Brooklyn apartment buildings, a Mount Kisco estate and a Coney Island gated community.

During the 1920s the New York Times reported on a number of Silver acquisitions as follows:

August 10, 1921 New York Times:

“Royal Castle, a costly apartment house at the corner of Clinton and Gates Avenues, was sold by Rogers Alexander to C.T. Silver and a group of associates.”

February 10, 1922 New York Times:

“C.T. Silver purchased 68-10-72 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, and has given in part consideration therefore his country estate at Sea Gate. The amount involved was in excess of $200,000.”

(Sea Gate was a private, gated community at the far western end of Coney Island at the southern tip of Brooklyn.)

February 20, 1923 New York Times:

“C. T. Silver sold the property known as Waterview Apartments.”

March 10, 1925 New York Times:

“Mrs. C. T. Silver, whose husband, formerly of C. T. Silver, Inc. auto dealers, is now a real estate operator at 100l West Fifty-seventh Street.”

January 30, 1929 New York Times:

“Sale by C. T. Silver to the Primrose Corporation of Mount Vernon.”

Conover T. Silver passed away on March 3, 1929, leaving his wife Elsie Ablowich Silver; a daughter, Iola Silver; a son, Conover T. Silver Jr.; and a sister, Margaret Reed.

Various real estate columns mentioned Silver’s real estate partners, of whom Harold F. Stone was the best known. Following Silver’s death Stone became president of Silver’s real estate holding company, which became known as the estate of C.T. Silver.

Harold F. Stone and his brother, Adolph F. Stone, were the owners of F. & W. Grand Company, a nationwide chain of 5¢-10¢-25¢ stores. On November 8, 1929 F. & W. Grand Co. merged with another 5¢-10¢-25¢ store chain known as Isaac Silver & Brothers, forming F. & W. Grand-Silver Stores, Inc.

Although the C.T. Silver Company and Isaac Silver & Brothers Company share the same surname, I could find no link between the two firms other than that both companies were controlled by Harold F. Stone. The estate of C.T. Silver continued to operate in the Metropolitan New York real estate field as late as 1944.

Frederick G. Neece of Pennsdale, Pennsylvania, the owner of the only known surviving example of C.T. Silver’s coachwork, wrote me recently about his 1916 Willys-Knight (aka Silver-Knight) Model 84 roadster:

"The car I have is built on a standard Willys Knight Model 84 chassis, model year 1916. The paperwork I received from the former owner indicates that the car, or chassis?,  was built in August or September of 1915.  The car has a very interesting history, which I'm trying to unravel. 

"The history of my car, in a nutshell, appears to be that it was either designed by, or built for, Blanche Stuart Scott.  She was the first woman to fly an airplane solo, and the only female student of Glenn Curtiss.  She held a variety of "firsts" in aviation.  She was also the second woman to drive across the US, which she did for promotional purposes for the Overland Co in 1910.  I have done a lot of research on her, and believe, and am trying to establish concretely, that she worked for CT Silver.  After graduating from a finishing school she moved to New York, where she worked selling cars.  I'm suspecting that she worked for CT Silver, and that it was through that connection that she was able to make connection with Willys of the Overland Co.  If the car was not in fact built for her, it was built to her specifications for the famous silent movie actress Pearl White.  I have been searching for a photo of Pearl White with my car, but have not had any luck turning one up yet.  I did however, find a photo of Pearl White driving a CT Silver boat tailed touring car.  I have also been successful in turning up a handful of photos of other cars built by Silver.  Apparently his cars were popular with actresses and performers of the period.

"My car is a pretty interesting piece, being a six passenger "runabout" - as I've found that Silver apparently termed the design.  The car is very similar to the photos you see of a white car he built with a group of ladies in it.  That car has drawer-type seats that pull out of the sides of the body, while my car has the earlier "outboard" seats that are doors that open and fold out over the running boards.  The car has no doors, bucket seats, and a rumble seat with folding upper deck lid similar to what Rolls Royce used into the 20's.  Interestingly too, if you compare my car to a Kissell Gold Bug, you can see that everything was already there in my car.  His ideas were formulated, but not yet refined into what would become the Gold Bug.  According to the Willys WOKR club, and the AACA, this is the only known surviving example of CT Silver's work.  That's why I thought you might be interested to know of the car.  I would be glad to send any pics of the car that might be of interest to you.  I believe the car will also be on display at the Curtiss Museum this year when the celebrate the 100th anniversary of Blanche Scott's historic flight."

© 2004 Mark Theobald - with special thanks to Frederick G. Neece






Val V. Quandt - The Classic Kissel Automobile pub 1990

W. C. Madden - Haynes-Apperson and America's First Practical Automobile: A History

Gene Husting – The Kissel Kaper - Automobile Quarterly, v.9 no.3 pub 1971

G.N. Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile

Keith Marvin - The Silver-Knight – Upper Hudson Valley Automobilist

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

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