1930’s Eagle Hotel – Concord, NH – DQ Matchcover

Click to enlarge

The Eagle Hotel, located in Concord NH, was a well known hotel back in the early to mid 1900's.  A hopping place to be sure!  My Grandfather, who was a textile mill salesman stayed here often during his trips from the Boston area to Concord and points beyond.  This matchcover, a Diamond Quality by Diamond Match Co., was produced in the 1930's.


1920’s Durant Automobile Dealer – Portland, ME – Matchbook Cover

Click to enlarge

1930's Durant Automobile Dealer - Portland, ME - Matchbook Cover

This 1930's Diamond Quality matchbook cover features the Durant Automobile, which was established in 1921 by former General Motors CEO William "Billy" Durant following his termination by the GM board of directors and the New York bankers that financed GM.  In this case of this specific cover, it was given out at the Elliott S. Peterson dealership in Portland, ME.


1950’s NuGrape Soda Action Matchbook Cover

Click to enlarge

This unique Action Match matchcover features NuGrape Soda.  My understanding is that the Action Match line, put out by Universal Match was around in the 1950's, but based on the information on the inside of the cover, this would date this cover back to 1941.

NuGrape is a brand of grape-flavored soda pop. The NuGrape brand was invented in 1906, first bottled in 1921, and by April 1933, The National NuGrape Company was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.  In 1922, licensing rights were sold to the Olla Bottling Works in Olla, Louisiana where it was made and distributed for many years. NuGrape was followed up by the popular Sun Crest brand of soft drinks in 1938.  In 1965, the National NuGrape Company introduced Kickapoo Joy Juice, a product based on Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip.  All three brands were acquired in 1968 by The Moxie Company (renamed Moxie-Monarch-NuGrape Company and later Monarch Beverage Company).  In 1970, Moxie-Monarch-NuGrape discontinued domestic U.S. sales of Kickapoo Joy Juice.

Wm L. Hughson Ford Dealership Matchbook Cover

It's not often that you come across a matchbook cover that features the first business of its kind in an industry that is just starting out.  This particular matchcover - featuring the first Ford automobile dealer is just such a cover.

Most people don't think much about the background or history of a business when they take a look at one of their matchbook covers.  But, boy - this is one that certainly tells a story that deserves looking into!  The Ford Motor Company dealership featured on this matchcover - The Wm L. Hughson Ford dealership is - or was - the oldest Ford dealership in the country.  From what I've been able to gather, his last dealership closed back in the early 1980's.  William (Billy) passed away in 1969.

Click to enlarge

Billy got his start as a Ford distributor / dealer in a pretty odd way.  He owned a machinery parts supply company based in San Francisco, but was fascinated with bicycles and was thinking of branching out into that business.  In 1902, he traveled to Chicago (that trip must have taken weeks!) to attend a national bicycle show.  It was at that show that he met none other than Henry Ford.  While Mr. Hughson was interested in the two wheeled form of transpiration, he became enthralled with the four wheeled vehicle that Ford was in Chicago promoting.  So enthralled that he made Henry a promise that he'd buy $5,000 worth of whatever the vehicle he made.  Now, Hughson didn't have the $5,000 to invest, but he had a good idea he could put investors together back in San Francisco that would back him in this venture.

Although it took several months, Hughson gathered the money from investors and in the summer of 1903 he made his way to Detroit to pick up the cars the money would buy.  But during the time he'd originally met Ford and the following summer, struggles had ensued with Ford and had no cars to provide him.  Ford, along with his partner Alexander Malcomson were in need of financing and pitched Hughson on the idea on investing in the company as opposed to buying the cars.  No dice they were told.  The investors wanted cars, not stock.

Later that year, Hughson received 12 brand new 1903 Model A cars, along with exclusive rights to the entire west coast (later to include Hawaii) sales territory.  If Ford had failed, the rights meant nothing, but boy, if he made it big, those rights would be a really big deal.  Unfortunately, it was next to impossible to sell the cars.  They ended up signing in a San Francisco warehouse for three years.  Ah, but things were about to change and change in a big way.

Wm L. Hughson Ford Dealership California

It's hard to imagine anything good coming from an earthquake.  Especially one as large as the "Great Earthquake of 1906".  But as far as the fortunes of Mr. Hughson, some good did in fact come from it.  You see, when the earthquake occurred, Hughson had the idea of using them to help get people to the hospital.  Yep - they were used as ambulances!  Not only were people amazed at how useful they were, the general public became excited about the possibilities of the automobile.  A greater awareness lead to a greater interest, which led to sales.  Of course Hughson and his investors weren't happy that the quake took place, but were quite pleased that the cars were no longer sitting in a warehouse.  But some years later, one has to wonder if they were so happy.  In 1919, all of the stock in the company was bought up by Henry Ford.  His original partners who had invested $5,000 a piece, earned $12.5 million dollars each when he bought the stock from them.  That kind of money was unheard of back in those days. But 'ol Billy never let on if he was unhappy.  In fact, he earned a great deal of praise and had a great deal of pride in the fact he was the first Ford Dealer in the country.  At the time of his passing in 1969, he was credited with being directly involved in the start of 120 car dealerships in the western US.  Many of his early employees ended up becoming dealers as well.  In 1972, one of those former employees to great pride in the fact at 96, he was the oldest living Ford Dealer in the system. This particular matchcover doesn't show it, but in doing research for this article, I found that Mr. Hughson had even bigger ideas in terms of the automobile.  In April of 1913, he struck a deal to build a Kissel Motor Car factory on the West Coast.  In fact, he became president of the west coast branch of the company.  Of course, he was the sole dealer on the West Coast as well.  It seemed that this arrangement soured pretty quickly, however.  I ran across a letter he wrote to the editor of the Automobile Trade Journal essentially complaining how the manufacturer / dealer / distributor relationship worked.  Apparently, manufactures required dealers to load up on stock prior to winter setting in and making them pay for that inventory as the cars sat in showrooms.  This seemed odd seeing as he was the President of the west coast operation.  As I said, it looks like that relationship went south pretty quickly.

It looks like things had really soured by 1919 as he severed his relationship with Kissel Motor Car Co. based on a report in the March 8, 1919 edition of Automobile Topics, which was an industry trade paper.  I thought it was interesting that that piece, it was noted that Mr. Hughson had Ford Dealerships from San Diego "clear up the coast".  So even at that early date, he had grown significantly.  It was also noted that he was also the west coast distributor for Federal Trucks as well.  Amazing how a trip to a bicycle show in 1902 lead to such a massive and successful business that spanned 8 decades.  Not only that, but remember what he was doing prior to getting into automobiles?  Well, he parlayed that machinery parts business into an incredibly successful auto parts business!  Had all the bases covered. One final note on this matchbook cover.  I find it interesting that there are only two locations noted on the front.  Clearly if he had dealerships from Seattle to San Diego, not all of them would fit.  I just find it odd that he chose to list any of them at all.  Perhaps the Los Angeles location was his second, so it only thought it made sense to list the first two.

Hughson Ford - San Francisco, CA

1947 Oldsmobile Dealer – Wilmington, DE – Matchbook Cover

Click to enlarge

1947 Oldsmobile Dealer - Wilmington, DE - Matchbook Cover

Here's a 40 strike matchbook cover featuring the 1947 Oldsmobile, with Hydra Drive!  This particular cover comes to us from Delaware Olds, which was based in Wilmington, Delaware.

You can have your own memento of this snazzy 1947 Olds in the form of a fridge magnet that we've produced through our partners at Zazzle.