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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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Stand Back, Folks: 1917

Stand Back, Folks: 1917

Our third look at that circa 1917 car wreck at Massachusetts Avenue and 21st Street N.W. in Washington. As with so many of these old glass negatives, mold is colonizing the thicker parts of the emulsion. The result is an accident scene that looks like it's been dusted with flour. National Photo Company. View full size.

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Eagle Electric Company?

The radiator shape of the New Eagle and the car in the accident are vastly different. The radiator shape of the New Eagle is completely round at the top with no variation in the thickness of the grill surround.

The New Eagle that was made in Cheshire, England was only made from 1901 - 1907, and it seems very unlikely that any were imported into the U.S. There are also differences in the horn and side lights. A short history of these cars is here:

Looking closely the hubcap looks like it might spell out "Electric Eagle Co." which was a brand made in Detroit, Michigan in 1915.

Also of note, District of Columbia license plate numbers 1 - 83 from 1907 - 1917 were issued to various automobile companies for demonstration purposes. Perhaps numbers 24 and 26 were out together on a demonstration ride.


Dave, I think you got it. Other details (radiator cap, horn) match nicely. Well done.

The Car

Has anyone identified the make of this auto? I didn't see a manufacturer's logo. It seems to be right-hand drive with controls outside the cab -- probably emergency brake. That great horn could be an add-on. With the worn and slightly tattered top it probably is dated sometime earlier than 1917.

[The hubs are embossed with what looks like the word "Eagle." Or maybe "circle." There's one more photo of this car left to post. - Dave]

Below, the 1907 New Eagle, a four-cylinder car made in England.


What's that bottle for on the running board? If it were 50 years later or more, I'd say it's a fire extinguisher, or it's an NOS bottle and this heap piled up while draggin' fer pinks.

[It's acetylene gas for the headlights. - Dave]


All these early car accidents make me think surely there were carriage/wagon wrecks. Any pics of those?

[Not that I've seen. But there are plenty of newspaper accounts of "runaway teams," which seem to have been a major hazard. - Dave]


While the horn is certainly cool, it is not a Klaxon. Klaxons are electric or hand powered. This could be a Rubes horn.


That horn is awesome.

SHORPY OLD 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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