Continued from Page 1
The August 31, 1905 issue of the Automobile
highlighting the firm's short, yet successful history up to that time:
"The Story of a Quick Business Success in
"SIX or seven years ago a young man on the
Exchange in New York who had some money to spend in
conceived the idea that he could get a large measure of fun out of an
automobile. He was not a mechanical man, and had not studied
engineering, so he called to his aid in selecting a machine his
a young man who had attained his majority only a year or so before but
given up a position with the New York Telephone Company to
engage in the electrical contracting business on his own account. He
interested in mechanics and of course had a good knowledge of
"Together they considered one
car and another—there were not many different makes in those
days—and finally became especially interested in a 6-horsepower
Panhard-Levassor. Careful examination of this French machine revealed
excellence of the material and workmanship in
it, and the
younger man recommended its purchase. So it was bought and it
"Friends took note of it, watched its
use and then wanted to buy it. It was
sold and another
machine of the same make, but of 8 horsepower, took its place. The
met the same fate as the first, but possession of the two machines had
a desire in both young men to learn why the French machines were
better and so much higher priced than cars then made in this
country, and what special conditions were responsible for the
"As the elder of the two wanted to get
a new car to replace the last one sold, the younger one went
to make a selection, as at that time no one was dealing in French cars
in New York city. When he got there, he found that the
manufacture and use of automobiles was already well
the French capital, where the work of designing and building
being undertaken as a serious engineering problem and that
obtainable material and workmen were employed.
"Several new cars were
bought, and upon returning home arrangements were made to
open an office
for the sale and storage of foreign cars in New
despite a widespread prejudice against foreign machines, it was
there were enough persons on this side who would want to
buy and use
the best cars the market afforded to make such an enterprise profitable.
"Under the partnership name of Smith &
small office was opened in the Automobile Exchange, on the north side
of Thirty-eighth street, between Broadway and Seventh
avenue, and arrangements were made with the Exchange
the storage and care of cars owned by their patrons. The
of the firm was A. D. Proctor Smith and the younger Clinton
Mabley. Mr. Smith took charge of the outside work and the sales,
Mabley took care of the inside management.
"The Automobile Exchange was then handling
American cars, such as the Winton and Stearns. It was about the
sales and storage station in the city, and its
decided the location for the new firm—in fact, this was
the beginning of the Thirty-eighth street "automobile row" that grew
up later and all but monopolized the block on that street
Broadway and Seventh avenue.
"That was five years ago. With the starting
of the new enterprise
an order was placed in Paris for a considerable number of cars to be
the following year, as the French firms were unable to promise
earlier. In a very short time it was seen that better facilities would
needed for properly taking care of customers' cars, and a
was made in leasing the old building on Seventh avenue near
street that comprises part of the establishment now occupied. This
a frontage of 50 feet on the avenue and a depth of 100 feet.
was opened the firm had only four or five cars to put in
it, and many
among the trade thought the partners were rash to the point of lunacy
undertaking a burden of such magnitude for the sale and care
of foreign make exclusively. Predictions were freely made of an early
failure and of the need of coming to other dealers to secure
"The introduction of French cars into
uphill work at first, according to Mr. Mabley. Everything seemed
the manufacturers and dealers, the trade papers and the
of the public, could not be convinced that cars could be built any
abroad than at home, and it was the hardest kind of work to
$7,000 or $8,000 proposition to a man who was used to considering cars
$1,500. Nearly everybody was skeptical, but the few early buyers were
satisfied and not only bought new cars from time to
but interested their friends and these became customers.
"To the policy of giving complete
satisfaction to their
customers, even at an occasional loss to themselves, Mr. Mabley
large measure the success of the firm. Other elements in its growth
quality of the cars handled and extensive advertising. Old
have been retained from the beginning, and some have bought
as ten and twelve cars. As the best advertisement is a
customer, it was obviously the best business policy to please patrons.
"Prejudice against foreign machines finally
as Americans going abroad began touring in
automobiles and returned home
with accounts of the pleasure enjoyed. At first very few ot the
brought their cars to America upon their return, owing to the heavy
duty, but later, when it was shown that foreign cars were adapted for
American roads, they brought them in and began doing some
their own country.
"The duty does not offer so much of a bar
formerly, for a man who paid from $3,000 to $4,000 for a car was more
balk at paying an additional 45 per cent, than a man who bought a car
$10,000 to $20,000, and the cost of machines has increased in
proportion with the power of the engine. Most of the cars imported now
24 horsepower or more.
"In the winter of 1901-2 the firm engaged
space at the
automobile show in Madison Square Garden and exhibited three
cars, an 8, a 10 and a 12-horsepower. The 12-horsepower machine
great wonder, being looked upon as a monster machine for ordinary use.
gave new impetus to the
business and the new garage
quickly filled up.
"The repair department grew
apace, and as new machinery was installed the
began experimenting in the building of high-class cars after the French
But it was impossible to get first-class mechanics who were capable of
the work right, and even more difficult to get the proper
"Despite the difficulties encountered, from
six to a
dozen cars were completed during each of the succeeding three years.
not offered to the public, but were kept by members of the firm for
use and by others closely connected with the business to be
tested, and it was not until last year that the first S.
Simplex cars were brought out publicly, and the Smith &
Company was fully launched in a factory on the East side.
"Meantime, the regular business of the firm
to expand so that a little more than three years ago the partnership
reorganized into a stock company and the adjoining building on the
of Seventh avenue and Thirty-eighth street was
leased and remodeled into an up-to-date auto salesroom,
stands to-day. Most of the stock was retained by Messrs. Smith &
Mabley, and the other shares were taken by men working in the
business with the principals.
"Another year saw the storage limit of the
establishment, even with the new addition, practically
reached, and the company decided to increase its
again, and in such a way as to provide for the growth for
years to come.
This proved to be a harder matter than was anticipated.
"Attempts were made to lease adjoining
was used as lumber yards and livery stables, but it was
do so, and as there was no plot of land on the block
large for the purpose,
the company sought and finally found
a location further up-town, on Broadway at the northwest corner of
"The site, which has been occupied by a
decrepit old houses, was particularly advantageous for the business of
the company, owing to its proximity to the best residential
the city, to the park and transportation lines, the broad
streets and lighter traffic.
"The owners of the plot agreed to erect an
building especially adapted for garage purposes, and Smith
Mabley, now incorporated, agreed to take a ten-year lease of the
option of renewal. Work was begun last spring, and now there
nearing completion there an automobile establishment which, it is said,
not only the largest in New York City, but anywhere in the
Paris not excepted. In another month it is expected that
the company will
be comfortably housed in its new quarters. The accompanying
from a photograph taken last Thursday shows the present stage of
construction, and work
is being rushed on the building inside and out.
"Every feature of construction of
the new building and its equipment that is
years of experience in selling, storing and caring for
the most costly types has been employed or provided for. The
construction is of
expensive character, of fireproof materials,
substantial and permanent. It is to be ornamental enough to
improvement to the character of that part of Broadway in which it is
located, and parts of the interior are to be attractively
decorated and well furnished.
"That a building of such
size and character
should be erected on a plot on the busy main thoroughfare of the
in the country, where frontage is so expensive, is indicative of the
the permanency of the business that is entertained by Smith &
their intimate knowledge of the present status of it, and by
parties who are erecting the building for them.
"Such rapid expansion of the retailing
business as is
shown by the need of a building of this size and character by
concern is in reality a better index of the
growth and stability of
the automobile business than is the enlargement of manufacturing
for the former represents the steady increase of the actual sales of
cars and of their constant use by the owners. It is evident
money would not be invested in establishments of this character unless
financiers felt assured of the permanency and continued
growth of the
business, for a building designed and built for a garage is
adapted to use for other purposes, especially in such a location.
"However, Smith & Mabley feel that they
venturing upon any uncertain undertaking, but are simply keeping pace
development of all modern forms of transportation and regard
expansion of their facilities only as a good business move. The
the problem of the storage and proper care of cars has
every additional car handled.
"The new garage will be centrally
a wealthy residential quarter of the city, close to the
Boulevard and to Central Park, in the great hotel and
section, convenient to the underground, elevated and surface
lines, and within a few short blocks of
the new home of the
Automobile Club of America.
"The new building is four stories
with a front of 160 feet on Broadway and 210 feet on
street. It is of irregular shape, as the building line of Broadway
of Fifty-sixth street at an acute angle, and a large
60 by 90 feet in the northwest corner is occupied by a corner of the
Hotel. The part of the building that is directly on the corner,
fronting on the
two streets and cut off from the rest of the structure by
will not be occupied by Smith & Mabley, but will be used by another
for commercial purposes.
"The four floors of the part to be devoted
automobile purposes comprise 76,000 square feet. The street walls of
structure are of buff brick trimmed with terra cotta, with ample
windows for lighting
the interior. The floors are of concrete supported by iron
columns and steel girders, making the entire construction
The offices and salesrooms are cut off by fire
walls and fire doors from the garage proper, where machines
in "live" storage. As each of the four floors is to be used for the
storage of cars, there will be accommodation for from 400 to 450 cars.
detail of construction and equipment will comply with the
of the Board of Fire Underwriters and the City Bureau of
Combustibles. Thus danger of fire will be reduced to the
minimum and insurance premiums on
building and machines
kept as low as possible.
"A novel but very simple device for
maneuvering of cars into position inside of the building is an original
with the firm. It is a combination of elevator and turntable.
large car "lift," directly in front of the Fifty-sixth street
entrance, is fitted with a turntable 17 feet in
diameter, and on each
of the floors there are three wire gates 8 feet wide opening from the
A car can be run through the entrance onto the elevator, raised to any
desired, then turned in any direction on the turntable before being
its final resting place. This greatly lessens the liability to damage
radiator, lamps and body by contact with other
cars and pillars and also diminishes the time
take a car into or out of the building. The elevator itself is 19 feet
probably the largest in the city. As each floor is in effect a separate
in itself, with individual washing stands,
gasoline and compressed
air supply, lockers, telephones and teleautograph service, a
need very little shifting about after being brought into the building.
"The plan of the main floor is shown in the
accompanying line engraving. The upper floors are much the same in
except that the space occupied on the first floor by
offices and salesrooms will be used in part by a chauffeurs'
room, and stockrooms for
parts and supplies and for
patterns, jigs and tools. An exceptionally
large and varied
stock of extra parts for both foreign and domestic machines
carried by the firm, and with the assortment of patterns,
jigs and fixtures constantly kept on hand, it is possible to
duplicate intricate parts of almost any description at short notice.
machine shop, of which this stockroom is an adjunct, will be located on
the top floor over the Fifty-sixth street
end, and will
have a complete up-to-date equipment of machine and hand
tools and every facility for executing difficult repairs.
the high class of cars handled and the instructive value of
them, the best class of mechanics is attracted to the shop.
"As shown in the plan, entrance to the
office of the
establishment is on the Broadway front, at the extreme northeast corner
building. This admits to a passenger elevator communicating with the
floors and also by stairway to the rooms and shops
upper floors. Opening off from the office are waiting rooms for
men and women patrons, which will be well furnished. There
ample provision for removing dust and grease after a long ride,
lavatory being fitted even with shower baths. There will be a separate
room for the chauffeurs on the second floor, and on the roof
a sort of summer garden where they may spend idle moments in comfort on
"The salesroom has a frontage on Broadway of
feet and a maximum width of 40 feet. The office, which is
from it by a wood and glass partition, is 35 feet square. The
room back of the salesroom and office is 50 feet
square, and the garage proper has a length of 100
feet and is 80 feet wide. At the rear or north end of the
the washing stands, occupying a space about 18 by 60 feet. In front of
space is the rear freight elevator, measuring 10 by 17
feet, and directly back of it a tire sink for washing tires.
left of the washing stands is a closed room with iron door where the
is drawn for filling the tanks. Hot water as well as cold will be piped
washing stands. One of the elevators gives access to the roof, so that
be taken out into the light for photographing or inspection.
"There will be a storage department for
vehicles, with the necessary charging facilities, and with
charge who are familiar with storage batteries.
"One of the garage floors will probably be
the storage of cars owned by persons who do not employ chauffeurs. Here
owners will be able to tinker with their machines as much as they like,
the unpleasant feeling of being watched by "professional" mechanics.
"The new establishment represents
investment of between $450,000 and $500,000 for the entire
exclusive of the land. The company will employ from eighty to
hundred workmen. Thus has developed in a few years out of an almost
insignificant beginning, an enterprise that requires the use of a
from $800,000 to $1,000,000 for the annual turnover, the sales of cars
present year being estimated by Mr. Mabley at from 175 to
200, and the average price of the machines between
$5,000 and $6,000."
The March 1906 edition of the Trow
Corporation Directory of the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, New
City, lists two distinct Smith & Mabley organizations. The first
details of their imported auto sales division as follows:
"Smith & Mabley (N.Y.) (Carlton R.
Albert D.P. Smith, sec.; Capital: $500,000. Directors: Carlton R.
Clarence M. Hamilton, Albert D.P. Smith); 1765 B'way."
The second detailed the partners' automobile
"Smith & Mabley Mfg. Co., (N.Y.) (Herman
Joseph S. Bunting, sec.; Capital, $45,000. Directors: Herman Broesel,
Bunting, Carlton R. Mabley, A.D. Proctor Smith, Clarence M. Hamilton)
Herman A. Broesel was the active partner in
Broesel & Co., a well-known manufacturer of woolen garments founded
by Broesel and two Germans, Otto and Hugo Boessneck, who continued to
their own woolen millworks - Otto Boessneck & Co. - in Glauchau,
Moscow, Russia. Broesel was also president of the Jefferson Bank
103 Canal & 299 E. Houston Sts.).
Broesel Sr. was socially acquainted A.D.
Proctor Smith and
wanted in when Smith & Mabley started plans to manufacturing their
automobile. He took his position as president of the firm seriously as
and his wife owned Simplex town cars. His sons, both Princeton
awaited their turn at the wheel of Smith's notorious Simplex motor
dream became a reality for Herman A. Broesel Jr., who piloted the
Simplex VIII to
victory in the 1907 Palm Beach Mid-Winter Regatta.
The other directors included; Joseph S.
Bunting, manager of Philadelphia's
Wanamaker Department Store's automobile dept. and a founding member of
Morris Park Motor Racing Club; and Clarence M. Hamilton, a founding
the Automobile Club of America, and later on secretary of the Isotta
of America, 1624 Broadway.
Smith & Mabley placed the following
article/advertisement in the July 1905 issue of Everybody's Magazine:
"Things to Consider in Buying an Automobile
"AN automobile is either a thing of
and safety, or it is a thing of annoyance, expense and danger. A cheap
steel, a makeshift fitting or a clumsy bit of workmanship sooner or
to a breakdown, and a breakdown always means delay and expense; often
injuries or death.
"The purchase of an automobile thus becomes
a proposition as the average" man is called upon to meet.
"It is not the claims of manufacturers, it
clever advertising, it is not dare-devil racing contests, that in the
determine what is good and what is otherwise in automobiles.
"It is the test of time—the test of the
itself—the test of Experience—that gives the final verdict; and in
this is the test that counts.
"There is just one name that comes to the
instantly when fine automobiles are discussed, and that name is
"Mercedes" stands for steel of exceeding
"It stands for the slow, precise,
mechanical exactness of the skilled German artisan—a skill recognized
"It stands for sterling honesty, for
precision, for a gathering together of perfect parts, shaped to do
harmoniously, safely and surely.
"It stands for the best thought in mechanics
triumph in the new art that had its birth when the Daimler idea took
the first motor cycle.
"This is general talk, but general talk is
the subject is the Mercedes Automobile.
"It is the finished thing as a whole—the
ensemble—that has made the fame of this machine.
"You do not ask what brand of paint Raphael
do you inquire as to the source of his canvases.
"You consider his work as he completed it.
"And so the owner of a Mercedes does not tax
about the motor, or transmission, or clutch, or cylinders, or steering
"He knows they are as they should be, and it
sense of certainty and safety that imparts to the owner the complete
is the very heart and life of automobiling.
"The owner of a Mercedes knows that when he
wants to go
anywhere his machine will be in shape to take him there.
"He knows his motor will start the exact
himself wants to start.
"He knows the carburettor will not be out of
and that the valves will not be broken.
"He knows, when he enters his car, that
feet are wheels and shafts and bearings that he can depend upon—so
that with them his safety and life are not in jeopardy.
"No Mercedes car ever leaves the factory in
until it is ready to start on a many-thousand-mile journey without
than supply it with gasoline, oil and water.
"Simply turn the crank, and the Mercedes is
respond to every move of the driver.
"Men who know express the belief that the
models have reached that stage in automobile evolution where a
"standard" is fixed.
"The product of the future will differ
little from the
1906 models, so that a man who buys now need not buy again in years to
"keep in style."
"The perplexity of choosing a fine holiday
gift at once
disappears by making that gift a Mercedes.
"Smith & Mabley, Inc., exclusive
agents of the
Mercedes Import Co., sole representatives of C. L. Charley, Paris,
entire Mercedes importations for 1906.
"In their Automobile Salon, Broadway between
57th Streets, New York, models of this Master Machine can be seen, or
particulars will be furnished by mail.
"The 1906 importations are limited in
number, so the
placing of early orders is advised.
"To order a Mercedes and not be able to get
disappointment go beyond that?
"WARNING—Vigorous prosecution will be begun
person who buys a Mercedes car from a foreign agent and imports it into
United States or Canada, thereby infringing the valuable basic Daimler
Selden patents, of which Smith & Mabley, Inc., are sole
in the United States and Canada for the Mercedes Automobiles made in
The October 18, 1905 issue of the New York
the grand opening of Smith & Mabley's new 'Auto Palace':
"New Automobile Garage Opened.
"Hundreds of women and automobile
every feature of interest in the new garage and automobile salesroom of
& Mabley, Incorporated, which was formally opened yesterday. The
building occupies half of the Broadway block on the corner of
Street. It is three stories in height, and these floors, with the
will accommodate about 500 automobiles. The garage is one of the most
ever erected in this city, and it is said to be the largest in the
"John B. Warden's Mercedes racing car that
he drove in
the recent Vanderbilt Cup race was among the attractions, and it was
by a curious crowd the greater part of the day. Mr. Warden himself was
and a number of foreign drivers took especial interest in studying the
conveniences in the repair shops, the electrical storage department,
chauffeurs' waiting room, and the big elevator for carrying automobiles
upper floors. This elevator is the largest of its kind in the city. It
feet square and is equipped with a turn table, so that a car entering
street can be turned readily in any direction before leaving the
"Music and refreshments were provided for
the guests, a
distinct novelty in an automobile garage. William K. Vanderbilt , Jr.,
Graves, and Commodore Morton F. Plant were among the large number
The January 26, 1906 New York Times
contained a display ad placed
by the Thompson-Starrett Co., the builders of the firm's new
were now shared by the HOL-TAN Co. (formerly Hollander-Tangeman Co.),
Manhattan FIAT importer:
"Two of the greatest automobile concerns in
City are doing business in this fireproof structure covering 22,960 sq.
which we built at the corner of 56th street and Broadway!'
"The work of excavating was not started
until the 5th
day of April, 1905. Messrs, SMITH & MABLEY, who rented from the
occupied their portion of the premises on the 10th day of October,
the HOL-TAN COMPANY, which made a lease on the 20th day of
1905, special reconstruction was done, including the installation of
elevators, and the premises were ready for occupancy on the 2nd day of
"This building was built on the COST INSURANCE
plan, and we invite
comparison of it with other structures
of a similar
character, many of which were started months before and few of which
"The Thompson-Starrett Company, 51 Wall St,
Smith & Mabley's Simplex motor launches
were sold with
an implied guarantee in regards to speed, so it's not surprising that
firm's automobiles were sold with the following perpetuial guarantee,
printed in the November 14, 1906 New York Times:
"A new departure in guarantees has been
decided upon by
the Smith & Mabley Manufacturing Company. Beginning this month,
cars will be sold with a certificate of perpetual guarantee. This
the car against defects in material,
workmanship or mechanism, to the extent of replacing any part or parts
bend or break, or otherwise prove defective, provided such defect or
are not caused by accident, misuse, or neglect."
The December 27, 1906 Automobile announced
Smith & Mabley's
latest business venture:
"TO ASSIST PATRONS IN EUROPEAN TOURS.
"During the past five or six years we have
upon so frequently to aid tourists in procuring cars for use on the
and the demand of late has become so great, that we have decided to
service of this kind a branch of our business," said Carleton R.
Mabley, of Smith & Mabley, Inc. "We have established a bureau
Paris which will furnish touring routes, hotel lists and cars of any
desired, together with a reliable chauffeur capable of acting in the
of a courier as well. The cars will be maintained in good running
the only extra expense beside the regular rental charge will be for
gasoline and tires. When arranged for in advance, through either the
the Paris office, the car will meet the customer at any British or
port of the transatlantic liners. We will provide only new cars of
horsepower and fine equipment such as have not been obtainable for
before. In Germany and Italy it is practically impossible to rent a
automobile, while in France it is not always easy to obtain a desirable
The rental will be the same as regularly charged in France and England,
the tourist desires to purchase the car, 80 per cent, of the rental
applied to the purchase price."
The February 10, 1907 New York Times made
announcement of the firm's recent acquisition of the Isotta-Fraschini
"Smith & Mabley, Inc., have received
word from the
Isotta-Fraschini Automobile Company of Milan, Italy, that they have
completed two racing machines. Smith & Mabley are the sole American
this Italian car, and it is expected that the two cup racers will be
for the Vanderbilt Cup race."
The March 1907 issue of Carriage Monthly
included a number
of Smith & Mabley tidbits:
"At the Chicago Show.
"Smith & Mabley, Inc., exhibited at
Chicago Show, through their local agents, the Hamilton Automobile Co.,
horse-power polished Isotta Fraschini chassis, a 30 horse-power Simplex
landaulet, a 35 horse-power Isotta Fraschini car with a miniature
body, and a 30-35 horse-power Simplex touring car. The Simplex
painted red, and upholstered in maroon morocco leather, the body of
made by Rothschild Fils, of New York, and seats five inside. It is
with two drop seats in back of the driver's seat, and contains card
toilet cases, clock, speaking tube, dome light, etc."
"Smith & Mabley's new booklet, ''The
Two," is a tasteful catalogue, and thoroughly representative of the
excellent cars produced by the makers of the S.& M. Simplex.
Handsomely illustrated with half-tone engravings, it is one of the
published this year. This concern has also gotten up a very original
postal card for those having the post-card habit."
""A New Idea in Automobile Touring" is an
exceedingly interesting little pamphlet put out by Smith &
Mabley, Inc. It is a description of "Troubles Touring" in
foreign lands, as conducted by Smith & Mabley's new European
department. The new idea in touring Europe is that this well-known
provide 30 horse-power Simplex touring cars, seating six persons and
for trips on the Continent, Smith & Mabley assuming all
responsibilities and attending to all the annoyances of securing
custom-house affairs, etc. A two months' itinerary of a delightful
tour from Cherbourg, through France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy
return, is laid out."
"A Touring Proposition.
"Smith & Mabley, Inc., are
inquiries from all over the world, asking for fuller particulars
their foreign automobile touring proposition. One gentleman in France
asking if Smith & Mabley would rent him a Simplex car for
in America under the same conditions as specified for cars loaned for
in Europe. The plan is this: Smith & Mabley, through
tour department, rent a man a car for any length of time at a regular
prices. Eighty per cent of the price paid over to Smith &
Mabley for the rental of the car may apply on the purchase price,
the party, after having used the car, desire to buy it. The same
will be made to apply here in America for parties living in foreign
The proposition has really taken a stronger grip than the firm looked
present prospects, Smith & Mabley will have to send over
other side between 30 and 40 cars of various types. All these cars will
Simplex products, made by the Smith & Mabley Mfg. Co., in
Classified ads for the tours were placed in
a number of the
nation's newspapers during March of 1907 which read as follows:
"EUROPEAN AUTOMOBILE TOURS
"For description of routes, principal
of cars, rates, complete information regarding this novel touring idea,
Foreign Touring Department, SMITH & MABLEY, 1763 Broadway. New
& M Simplex, Panhard, Renault, Isotta-Fraschini."
At that time J. Knight Neftel served as
Smith & Mabley's
An October 19, 1904 incident involving a
startled horse and
a touring car owned by the firm made headlines just as Smith &
Automobile Tour business was getting started. To make the matter worse,
in question was towing the broken-down Simplex racecar piloted by Frank
Croker in the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup race. Apparently doomed from
day one, the 70 hp racer was originally constructed in order to win the
pre-race weigh-in the Simplex
was several tens of pounds over the 2,204 weight limit, forcing Coker's
mechanic to drill the car's frame and bodywork full of holes in order
to get it
under the limit. During that process the Simplex' normally sturdy
weakened so much that it collapsed during the race, forcing Croker to
the race in first gear with the drivetrain scraping the ground.
It was on
the return trip to the Smith
& Mabley shop that the racecar's tow vehicle, a touring car owned
& Mabley, startled a horse pulling the carriage in which Mrs. A.B.
was riding, throwing her out of the vehicle and causing her injury.
her husband waited over two years to file the lawsuit, it came at a
of 1906-1907 had prompted
lenders to clamp down on credit, and despite Smith & Mabley's
untarnished reputation as Manhattan's first and most successful
automobile dealer, the loss of working
disastrous to Smith & Mabley Inc.
teetering on bankruptcy, the
repercussions of the Davis lawsuit caused a number of the firm
creditors to ask
for a receiver. The February 21, 1907 New York Times presented
"SUE AUTO FIRM FOR $80,000.
"Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Davis Want Damages for
Received In Accident
"The trial of an action involving claims for
amounting to $80,000 was begun yesterday in the supreme Court of Queens
Justice Carr sitting, at Flushing. The main action is brought by Mrs.
Smith Davis, wife of Allen Bell Davis, a well-known horse-dealer of
City. She sued to recover from Smith & Mabley, automobile dealers
Manhattan, $30,000 for injuries alleged to have been suffered on Oct.
Her husband seeks damages in the sum of $50,000 for the loss of his
services. Yesterday was consumed in obtaining the jury.
"Mrs. Davis and her husband were driving
Thompson Avenue, Long Island City, on Oct. 19, 1904, when they met a
car belonging to the defendant's firm, which was towing the racing car
Frank Croker drove in the 1904 race for the Vanderbilt Cup, and which
down on the course.
"Mr. Davis's horse took fright and shied,
Davis was thrown out."
The reasons for the Davis' three-year delay
in filing a case
against Smith & Mabley are unknown, but the results were
the firm was in the hands of a receiver 90 days later.
his Simplex racecar had
already suffered a similar fate on January 21, 1905 when the rebuilt
flipped over at the annual Ormond-Daytona Beach time trials, killing
The January 26, 1905 issue of Motor Age gave
"THE TOURNAMENT IS INAUGURATED BY TWO DEATHS
"Daytona, Fla., Jan. 22—Frank H.
of the few American amateur automobile drivers, died this morning from
severe injuries he received yesterday afternoon in a collision with a
cycle rider. His mechanic, Alexandre Raoul, was killed
being thrown high in the air and falling on his head; while Newton
nephew of the builder of the racing cars bearing that name, and who was
the motor cycle, had his legs broken.
"The accident cast a gloom over the hundreds
enthusiasts here for the week of sport which begins Monday, and
be taken at once to prevent similar accidents. Those who saw the
yesterday afternoon agree that Croker sacrificed his life and
his assistant in order to save Newton, who was probably to blame for
disaster. The New Yorker was taking a spin in his 75-horsepower Simplex
and probably going at a rate of a mile in 40 to 45 seconds, when
Newton, who was
going in the same direction, suddenly start to ride across the
course. Croker was only a few yards away and immediately gave
machine a sharp turn toward the car, thus trying to avoid running down
smaller machine. But in turning the big car he struck the motor cycle,
Newton to be thrown off and his legs to be broken. The strain of the
turn given to the Croker car resulted in one of the front
coming off. The machine then became controllable, bounced into the surf
over, settling into the water. Raoul was thrown out of the car, fell on
head was killed, while Croker fell into the water with the
When he was picked up he was unconscious. An examination owed that he
legs broken, severe injuries all over the body and the head and that
condition was precarious. During the night a slight improvement was
but early this morning Croker had a relapse, which ended in
death. During the few moments he regained consciousness the racing man
how his mechanic was and was told that he was all right. This seemed to
"Frank H. Croker, son of
Richard Croker, of Tammany Hall fame, was only 27 years old.
having been an enthusiastic football and baseball player he became
in the newer sport and soon was an enthusiastic motorist and later on
a fast motor boat. He first became well known when he was entered as
one of the
contestants in the Vanderbilt cup race, in which he drove the same
figured in yesterday's accident. In that great road race Croker gave
of being a good but at the same time daredevil driver. He continued
gamely, although he had no chance whatever of finishing among the
November, on the Empire City track, Yonkers, N. Y., Croker established
a new world's amateur record for 1
the distance in 57% seconds in the Simplex. He also broke all other
world's records up to 12 miles, which distance was covered in 11:32
The firm's receivership was published in the
May 14, 1907
Business Troubles column of the New York Times as follows:
"SMITH & MABLEY— A petition in
bankruptcy has been
filed against Smith & Mabley, Incorporated, dealers in automobiles
Broadway, by James, Schell & Elkus for these creditors: Thompson
$1,500 for fire Insurance; Auto Import Company, $60 for supplies; and
Printing Company, $50 for printing. It was alleged that the corporation
insolvent, made preferential payments, and transferred accounts. Judge
the United States District Court appointed Postmaster William R.
receiver of the assets on consent of the attorneys for the corporation,
bond at $20,000, and authorized him to continue business for two weeks.
business was started several years ago by the firm of Smith &
Mabley and was
incorporated under New York laws, on Oct. 22, 1903, with a capital
$500,000. Carlton R. Mabley is President and Albert D. Proctor Smith
The firm paid, it is said, a rental of $40,000 a year for its quarters
Broadway. The corporation formerly did a large business, its sales for
been, it was reported, $1,500,000. The assets are reported to be
$50,000 and $175,000 and liabilities in excess of those figures."
The following display ad appeared in the May
17, 1907 New
"Receiver's Sale Of High Grade Automobiles
"Panhard, Renault, Mercedes, and several
"All the above are brand new 1906 models,
Touring and Limousine Bodies. Also some slightly used cars and $25,000
Auto Parts, Supplies, etc., at slaughter prices.
SALE ENDS May 25th, by order of the court.
"W.R. WILLCOX, Receiver, for SMITH &
June 21, 1907 New York Times:
"SMITH & MABLEY ASSETS
"Auto Firm's Liabilities $296,188 – Nominal
"Schedules in bankruptcy of Smith &
Incorporated, dealers in automobiles and supplies at 1765 Broadway,
liabilities $296,188, of which $90,000 are contingent, being three
for personal injuries; nominal assets, $513,661, and available assets,
$167,241. The nominal assets are automobiles, supplies, materials,
furniture at cost of $61,892; outstanding accounts, $64,578; equity in
assigned, $2,614; cash, $557; unexpired insurance, $1,600; 360 shares
of Smith & Mabley Manufacturing Company, $36,000 par value pledged
loan of $25,000; plant and power account, good will, & c. carries
books as $346,420.
"The damage suits are by Addie Smith Davis
she recovered a verdict of $10,000, which was set aside by the court
and a new
trial granted; Allen B. Davis, $50,000 for his wife's injuries, and
Beckman $10,000. Of the actual liabilities, $25,562 are secured. There
creditors, among whom are Boessneck Broesel, $116,500, partly secured;
Amsterdam National Bank, $24,000; Riverside Bank, $165,500*; W.H.H. Hull & Co., $6,117; Bridgeport
Vehicle Company, $5,999; Harry Monkhouse, Rome, N.Y., $3,638; Standard
Company, $2,698; Harburg Fire Company, $1,714; and New York Edison
(*actually $16,550, see following article
June 25, 1907 New York Times:
"NO LOSSES TO THE BANK.; Smith &
Indebtedness to the Riverside Bank Fully Paid
"In the schedules in bankruptcy of Smith
published in The Times on Jun 21, the statement was made that the firm
the Riverside Bank $165,000, this was a typographical error and should
"The Riverside Bank sometime before the
upon an endorsement upon the notes of the firm, which was secured, and
failure the bank did not lose a dollar, as the notes were promptly
bank is conducted in a most conservative manner and has made no loans
amount previously stated."
C.A. Duerr, the Manhattan Moon distributor,
leased a portion
of the former Smith & Mabley structure in late 1908 for sales and
of the Moon automobile.
Although the Smith & Mabley
Manufacturing Company was
corporately unrelated to Smith & Mabley Incorporated, the latter's
forced a reorganization of the partner's manufacturing business in
& Mabley sold their shares in the Manufacturing Company to its
and largest shareholder, Herman A. Broesel Sr., who promptly installed
on the board and renamed the firm the Simplex Automobile Company.
Between 1904 and 1907 approximately 120
Smith & Mabley
Simplex chassis were built at the partner's 614 E. 83d St., factory.
Smith & Mabley did not have an exclusive
license to sell
the Mercedes in Manhattan, which was officially handled by the Mercedes
Co., 590 Fifth Ave., a firm founded by Charles W. Morse, John J.
Robert E. Fulton to import the car under license from C.L. Charley of
Import Co., with branches in Philadelphia, Newport R.I., Boston and
were also unable to survive the panic failing in February of 1908.
The failure of Smith & Mabley indirectly
caused a second
Mercedes-inspired car to be put on the American market. Founded in 1906
serve as the exclusive agents for the Matheson, the Palmer & Singer
Manhattan and Chicago branches were also authorized Smith & Mabley
and Selden distributors. Although the firm's largest shareholders,
Charles A. Singer jr. & sr., - heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine
were unaffected by the panic, they no longer wanted to be associated
failed Simplex organization, electing to produce their own Mercedes
Under the direction of the firm's
Palmer, the manufacture of the first Palmer & Singer car was
the Matheson shops which also happened to be controlled by the Singers.
Like the Simplex, the Palmer-Singer was
built using a large
number of Mercedes-sourced parts, in particular its V-shaped radiator
massive 4-cylinder engine. Priced to fill the gap vacated by the
Palmer-Singer models debuted during 1907-1908. Coachwork for the
was supplied by the same firms that had furnished bodies for the
namely Moore & Munger, Healey, Quinby and Rothschild plus the
recently-organized Holbrook-Singer Co., that, unsurprisingly, was also
controlled by the Singers.
The partners were both heavily involved in
New York City's
auto-related fraternities and organizations. A.D. Proctor Smith served
inaugural president of the New York Automobile Trade Club which was
January of 1904 and was a made a director of the Manhattan Transit Co.
Starting in 1904 Carleton R. Mabley served
as manager of the
New York Importers' Salon until resigning his position shortly after
event. The October 27, 1907 issue of the New York Times contained an
penned by Mabley detailing the history of the imported car in America:
"IMPORTER'S SHARE IN AUTO PROGRESS
"Why the Foreign Car Has Been Popular and
Upon American Industry.
"CONDITIONS NOW CHANGING
"New York's Third Auto Show in December Will
Restricted to Finest Types of European Machines.
"By Carlton R. Mabley, Importers' Automobile
"With the coming of the Importers'
Automobile Salon, to
be held at Madison Square Garden Dec. 28, we are practically
eighth anniversary of the importing business, and without making
comparisons, but still sticking to the truth, we may say that the first
imported automobile was the first practical self-propelled vehicle that
be considered safe, sane, and usable for extensive passenger
we may add that the automobile industry as it exists to-day both abroad
here is the growth of one decade. Just stop and think. Less
ten years and we have in use alone in the United States, it is
150,000 automobiles. Assuming the average carrying capacity can
persons, we have a carrying capacity of 750,000 persons, of which about
are receiving a livelihood from the driving or operating of these cars,
majority are using these vehicles in the place of trains, trolley cars,
carriages, and bicycles-in fact, in preference to any other means of
or transportation. Undoubtedly the pleasure obtained in 70 per
these cases is secondary to the actual service rendered in expediting
business of a great people in a safe and comfortable manner.
"The part that the individual importer has
bringing about the reliable iron traveling steed, controlled by the
manipulation of one hand, and that can climb a mountain or move along
congested traffic has been more important than many, unfamiliar with
details of progress, have any idea.
"In the year 1901 there was one concern
into this country. In 1902 there were two or three, and the total
importations of machines of foreign make into this country up to that
would not have totaled fifty. During 1903 there were several new
important agencies for foreign cars opened in New York, and the foreign
then well established for American use. In the year 1904 there
300 vehicles imported into this country by some ten or twelve
It was in this year that the Importers' Automobile Salon was
for the purpose of promoting and aiding the importations into the
of the most improved and latest foreign models, and the first
foreign car show was held in January, 1905, when twenty-five different
"The business increased so largely that the
importations during the year fairly astonished the American
The total importations in this year were about 900 machines,
$3,000,000, and in the following year, 1906, we have what may be termed
banner year for both the foreign and the American high-grade car.
small single and double cylinder American cars, being considered in a
themselves, supplying a demand in this country which was not sought by
foreign makers at all, the success of the foreign cars was directly due
their four-cylinder powerful engines, strong construction, reliability,
longevity of service.
"The year 1906, which was the largest year
and the best
year for high-powered cars of both foreign and American makes, saw the
importations reach the wonderful total of 1,500 cars, of a valuation of
$4,500,000, or with duty and freight added, $7,000,000. Up to and
including this year we see now an approximate total of importations of
cars, during which period there have been manufactured 14,000 cars in
country that might be assumed to be cars in the same general category
as those imported. It will be seen, therefore, that the people
afford to purchase cars at as high a price as these naturally were
pretty well supplied.
"One feature of these superior quality cars
was that it
was unnecessary to purchase new ones every year as cars of this quality
be depended upon to do satisfactory service for a number of years.
account of the uniform and more permanent designs, a decrease in both
importations of higher-priced machines and in the purchase of
American machines was to be looked for during the year 1907. That
looked-for decrease was far smaller than might have been reasonably
is shown by the fact that the importations up to Oct. 1 show 879 cars,
indicating that the sale of high-grade cars will be very little
year, in spite of these conditions.
"Whether or not there will be as many
foreign cars sold
in 1908 as in 1907, there is one thing pretty generally established and
recognized to-day, and that is, as long as there is a good market for
high-class, reliable goods, the imported car will hold its
"Conditions of manufacture and importations
revising themselves. The future supply will be in proportion to
demand made up of those who have not heretofore owned cars, of which
be a goodly number every year, and a certain fair proportion of
repurchases of new machines. In supplying this demand, the
will receive its fair proportion of increasing supporters. Many
manufacturers have been studying the questions of natural supply and
and it may be fairly predicted that a selected and much better
of both foreign and American cars will compete for the continued large
for the best quality of machines ranging from $5,000 to $8,000. This
necessitate some raising of prices by American manufacturers and a
foreign car prices."
During their short tenure as Manhattan's
premier importer of
European automobiles, Smith & Mabley were in a position to
customer's on their choice of coachwork. While many preferred to work
well-established firms, some were not so choosey, and the partners
offering their own line of coachwork in 1902-03 which was marketed
Smith & Mabley name.
Many of Manhattan's lesser-known builders
content with having their work branded with Smith & Mabley
which is exactly what happened. Firms such as Cole & Woop,
& Munger and Schildwachter supplied either bodies-in-the white or
trimmed and painted coachwork to the partners into the middle teens. It
if the firm produced any of their own coachwork from scratch, however
certain the firm's well-equipped refinishing department could take a
body-in-the white and paint and trim it to a high standard.
By the end of 1908 Carlton R. Mabley had
organized a new
sales organization with his brother-in-law George W. Post jr. (b. 1878
married Bernice Mabley) in order to sell and distribute auto trucks at
Broadway, Manhattan. The January 1909 issue of Power Wagon announced a
deal by the Post Organization to distribute the Hart-Kraft Motor Truck
around New York City:
"TO COMMISSION 1100 MOTOR WAGONS.
"ARRANGEMENTS have been made between the
Motor Company, of York, Pa., and the Post Motor Company, of New York,
the latter establishment will undertake to put 1,100 gasoline wagons,
the former, in service within a radius of 50 miles from the metropolis.
maintenance of these machines will be undertaken by the Post company,
will lease them on yearly contracts to establishments which have need
"The Post company has been granted exclusive
privileges within the metropolitan district. It is composed of George
Jr., formerly sales manager for the Panhard company, and C. R. Mabley,
a member of the firm of Smith & Mabley, and several other
well known in the trade. It is reported that already a considerable
prominent houses in New York have agreed to sign contracts for the
Post and his cousin Carroll J. Post Jr. (of
the Post &
Davis Co., well-known Manhattan printers and engravers), were the
behind the Elmere Motor Car Co., another Manhattan-based motor vehicle
organization of which additional information is lacking.
The Post Motor Co. failed within the year
and C.R. Mabley
took a position as general manager of the R.I.V. Company, 1771
firm was the US importer of the Italian-made R.I.V. radial ball
component found in an increasing number of heavy trucks and equipment.
As the importation of R.I.V. bearings was
halted at the
start of the First World War, Mabley joined the selling organization of
S.K.F. Ball Bearing Co. on March 15, 1915. Produced in Hartford,
Manhattan sales office was located at 50 Church St., New York City, and
was placed in charge of the Automobile Dept.
The June 28, 1919 issue of Michigan
Financial Record announced Mabley appointment as S.K.F's Detroit
"MABLEY S. K. F. MICHIGAN MANAGER.
"C. R. Mabley has been appointed
manager of sales in Michigan for the S. K. F. Industries. Inc.. which
K. F. ball bearings. Hess-Bright ball bearings, Atlas balls and the
the S. K. F. Engineering Laboratory. Headquarters of Mr. Mabley
staff will be in Detroit."
The 1920 Federal Census reveals that the
Mabley family included
his wife Louise; a daughter, Catherine; and six sons - Carlton (jr.),
Taylor, Hollister, Theodore and Frank. Carleton R. Mabley retired from
sales staff of SKF Industries, Inc. on June 1, 1946, after 31
of service, passing away in September, 1963 at the age of 84.
From 1904-1906 A. D. Proctor Smith served as
the Motor Boat Club of America during which time he campaigned at least
of his 'Simplex' motor launch (1904's Simplex I through 1907's Simplex
Smith was also a member of the Palm Beach Power Boat Association who
annual Power Boat Carnival on Lake Worth. Another member of the club
Manhattan millionaire W. Gould Brokaw, who became the owner of Smith
Mabley's Challenger soon after it returned from competing in the 1904
A.D. Proctor Smith apparently fell off the
face of the earth
after the failure of Smith & Mabley as no information on personal
business activities could be located after that time. I get the
most of his time was spent working on his motor launches, and he had
do with the partner's automotive operations. His last known residences
were Larchmont, New York and Palm Beach, Florida.
Gustave E. Franquist, a founding member of
(Society of Automotive Engineers), remained Simplex' chief engineer,
plant superintendent when the firm relocated to New Brunswick, New
remained in charge of the factory during the war when it was outfitted
produce Hispano-Suiza aircraft engines, and ended his career at
York's James Cunningham, Son & Company, passing away after a short
on September 15, 1924 at the age of 50.
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