Cunningham Radiator Emblem

During the early 20th century, many carriage manufacturers ended up converting their horse-drawn carriage frames for use in automobiles. James Cunningham Son & Company began building carriages in Rochester, New York in 1838. Towards the end of the century the company began to experiment with electric-powered carriages, and by 1908 Cunningham was assembling automobiles that included their carriages chassis. In 1910 the company began producing their own luxury automobiles. In a time when the Ford Model T sold for less than $1,000, Cunningham’s were often priced at $5,000 or more. Cunningham ceased automobile production in 1931, as the Depression made the luxury car business largely unprofitable. The blue and white emblem is the shape of the front of a car and reads “The Cunningham/Car/Rochester, N.Y.” in silver script.
Radiator emblems are small, colorful metal plates bearing an automobile manufacturer's name or logo that attached to the radiators grilles of early automobiles. Varying in shape and size, the emblems served as a small branding device, sometimes indicating the type of engine, place of manufacturing, or using an iconic image or catchy slogan to advertise their cars make and model. This emblem is part of the collection that was donated by Hubert G. Larson in 1964.
Currently not on view
Object Name
emblem, radiator
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Radiator Emblems
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Radiator Emblems
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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