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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Black Knight: 1920

Black Knight: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Black Motor Car Co., 14th Street N.W." We see you there. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Knight engine

I saw a Knight engine apart about 30 years ago - a really fascinating dual sleeve valve design. There's a decent overview of it on Wikipedia which covers both its virtues and the reasons it (and other sleeve valve gas engines) finally died off. Using "Knight" in the car's name was required by the engine-use license (thus, e.g., Willys Knight).

Pent-Up Curiosity

Washington Post, January 11, 1920.

America's Exclusive Knight Six
Arrives in the Nation's Capital.

There has been so much curiosity and interest as to why the Moline-Knight sign on the Black Motor Car Co.'s show window had been removed and the R. & V. Knight substituted that Mr. Black, president of the local firm, decided it was high time to relieve the pent-up curiosity and announce the arrival of the new R. & V. Knight Six, America's exclusive six-cylinder Knight motor car, and explain what R. & V. stood for. In explanation, R. & V. is an abbreviation for Root and Van Dervoort, America's pioneer manufacturers of high-grade gasoline motors, and the former Moline-Knight car. The reason for the change in trade name of their product was occasioned by confusion in trade circles and among the public, as to what the word Moline stood for, as Moline, Ill., is a manufacturing city of no small proportion and several firms use the trade name Moline for business purposes. The Root and Van Dervoort Engineering Co., decided that in announcing their models for 1920 it was appropriate time to adopt a trade name to designate their product.

Their new line of pleasure cars consists of America's exclusive Knight-Six, embodying the highest standards of American and European engineering principles in motor construction and chassis design, with five types of body design to select from, also a 4-cylinder Knight motor mounted on a sturdy chassis in two designs, which will be announced later.

The Birth of a Race

The movie poster in the window documents the arrival of a photoplay that ambitiously attempted to push back against the perceived racism of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" and its enthusiastic reception by the Ku Klux Klan. A photo of one of the company's stock certificates, with a detailed history of the film's production and a 1919 review in Motion Picture World Magazine can be found at

Window street scene

Roughly what we'd see if we were inside looking back out.

1920 R&V Knight Six

Manufactured by the Root & Van Dervoort Engineering Co. in East Moline, Illinois.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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