Seal Cove Auto Museum, Antique Autos and Motorcycles from the Brass Era, Mount Desert Island, Maine
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Museum Opens Season with New Exhibit and Public Reception

April, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum is celebrating a new exhibit with a free public reception on Saturday, May 3 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Guests will enjoy free admission to the museum, activities for children of all ages and light refreshments.

A special display of Lego creations made during the museum's popular Lego Day will also be exhibited. The opening marks the beginning of a busy season, which will include weekly demonstrations of the cars in the collection, curator-led tours, programs with local camps and participation in regional parades and car shows.

The Auto Museum's new exhibit is entitled Motoring into the 20th Century. The exhibit explores the cultural and industrial innovations of the earliest automobiles. America at the dawn of the 20th century was in the process of rapid and transformational growth. New inventions were being marketed to middle class Americans and traditional social and gender roles were being challenged. It was an exciting time, and one of the most exciting new inventions was motorized travel. This exhibit highlights several key changes in manufacturing that enabled the invention of the automobile, and some of the resulting social changes for women and the middle class. It reveals the fits and starts of early auto manufacture before mass production, and the race to make a sustainable and practical car, all before Henry Ford created his Model T auto for the masses.

Museum Wins Two NAAMY Awards

April, 2014 The museum was tickled to receive recognition of its work with media technology in the form of two NAAMY awards. The museum received a first place Award of Excellence for its website, and a third place Award of Excellence for its eNewsletter, from the National Association of Automobile Association at its annual conference at the end of March.

The annual NAAMY awards competition honors the work of nonprofit automotive transportation museums. The awards recognize industry leaders for achievement, professionalism and creativity. They are designed to further promote professionalism in automotive museum managerial, curatorial, educational and promotional work.

Seal Cove Auto Museum Wins Award at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

March, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum has won The Fashion Group International Award for The Best Presentation of Fashion and The Automobile at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Last week the sporty American Underslung Model 50 Travler Special Victoria traveled to Amelia Island Florida to be exhibited in this world renowned car show.

Owned by the Richard Paine Jr. Automobile Collection Charitable Trust and exhibited at the Seal Cove Auto Museum, the Underslung was a featured class at this year’s Concours. Cordell Snow, Auto Museum mechanic, and his wife Sandy, dressed in period golf costume to accompany the car.

Now in its nineteenth year, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is a celebration for the automobile like no other, among the top automotive events in the world, according to Chris Koch, one of the event organizers and board member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum. The United Kingdom’s “Octane Magazine” named the 2013 event as the Best Motoring Event worldwide, and this year it drew nearly 350 rare vehicles and a record 30,000 visitors.

The Fashion Group International is a global, non-profit, professional organization with 5,000 members in the fashion industry. The award is given to the display that best evokes the period of the automobile represented through the costuming of its presenters. Inspired by a period “Underslung” advertisement, Cordell and Sandy Snow of Ellsworth perfectly captured the look of the apparel in the ad.

The Trust’s “Underslung” was originally purchased by Larz Anderson, a prominent US diplomat, and was delivered during Anderson's diplomatic posting to Belgium in 1911. With Larz Anderson's death in 1937, the automobile's ownership passed to his widow, Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson, a Boston-area heiress and author who left a park and two museums as a legacy to the public, including the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. The car was then acquired in 1948 by Briggs Swift Cunningham, racing car builder, driver, team owner, manufacturer, and automobile collector. Cunningham also skippered the victorious yacht Columbia in the 1958 America's Cup race. The car was driven by Cunningham in early revival Glidden Tours, and later placed on display at his Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California. In 1987, Cunningham sold his 71-car collection, including the “Underslung,” to friend and collector Miles C. Collier. The Collier Institute donated the car to Richard C. Paine Jr. in 1994 for display at the Seal Cove Auto Museum.

The museum was able to show this wonderful automobile at Amelia Island thanks to the sponsorships of Bill Warner, Founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance; the Richard Paine Jr., Automobile Collection Charitable Trust; and Chris Koch, member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Boards of Directors. The car has returned to its home at the Seal Cove Auto Museum and can be seen on exhibit, with the trophy, when the museum opens to the public on May 1.

Heading to Sunny Florida for the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance with the 1911 American Underslung

February, 2014 Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world, drawing nearly 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world, for a celebration of the automobile like no other.

The museum has been invited to show the Richard Paine Charitable Trust's five passenger 1911 American Traveler Model 50 Victoria, with an underslung chassis. The American was originally purchased by Larz Anderson, a prominent US diplomat, and was delivered during Anderson's diplomatic posting to Belgium in 1911. The “Underslung” is a featured class at this year’s Concours.

We are able to show this wonderful automobile at Amelia Island thanks to the sponsorships of Bill Warner, Founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance; the Richard Paine Jr., Automobile Charitable Trust; and Chris Koch, member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum Board of Directors.

The car's unique Victoria-style top was custom ordered by Anderson and installed by the American Motor Car Company. With Larz Anderson's death in 1937, the automobile's ownership passed to his widow, Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson. She was a Boston-area heiress and author who left a park and two museums as a legacy to the public, including the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA.

In 1948 the car was acquired by Briggs Swift Cunningham, who was a racing car builder, driver, team owner, manufacturer, and automobile collector. Cunningham also skippered the victorious yacht Columbia in the 1958 America's Cup race. The car was driven by Cunningham in early revival Glidden Tours, and later placed on display at his Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California.

Raney Bench Joins Team as Director

January, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum is pleased to welcome Raney Bench to the Seal Cove Auto Museum as its new Executive Director. Ms. Bench has over twelve years of experience as a museum professional in private non-profit museums, as well as leadership experience in education, collections, exhibits, visitor services, and working with volunteers.

She has a Masters degree in Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska, and most recently worked at the Abbe Museum as Curator of Education. Ms. Bench currently resides in Southwest Harbor with her family.

The museum’s Interim Director, Roberto Rodriguez, is staying on at the museum as our Director of Curatorial Affairs, focusing on researching the history of the vehicles in the museum’s collection, public programs, and exhibits.

Museum Sees Record Visitors

December, 2013 The Seal Cove Auto Museum is ending the year with a record season, having had over 12,500 visitors coming to explore its antique auto collection between May and October this past year. A rainy day in July brought in 429 visitors, the highest number of visitors the museum has seen in a single day, with the admissions line literally extending out the door! Says Hope Rowan, the museum’s Digital Media & Communications Specialist, “Word is getting out about the Seal Cove Auto Museum. We have had visitors from across the country coming to the island specifically to visit the museum; and more and more residents on MDI are realizing that this amazing collection of cars is right in their own backyard.”

Visitors turned out for sixteen different events throughout the season, ranging from a book presentation and demonstrations of alternatively-fueled cars, to movie showings and programs for kids. Museum staff and volunteers were kept busy throughout the season not just at the museum itself, but also taking the museum’s vehicles to other events in the region, including an educational event at the local Historical Society, and a “blessing of the cars”; in addition to taking vehicles further afield to cars shows, such as the Boston Cup in September.

In part in preparation for these and other upcoming shows, the museum’s mechanics succeeded in getting some of the cars in the collection up and running again, including the 1921 Mercer, the 1910 American, and the 1904 Knox.

It’s been a busy but delightful year, and museum staff are already beginning to plan for a wonderful - and even better - 2014 season.

Antique Fords Donated to Museum

August 5, 2013 Two antique Ford automobiles have been donated to the Seal Cove Auto Museum by Mrs. Barbara MacQuinn in honor of her late husband, Mr. Ronald P. MacQuinn. The two donated cars – a 1928 Ford Model A Huckster, and a 1926 Ford Model T – were unveiled at the Auto Museum’s Annual Meeting at the end of July.

The Huckster is a style of vehicle used in the early part of the 20th century by peddlers. Normally built by converting a pick-up body,the rear of this type of vehicle was often fitted with a wood enclosure giving plenty of space for wares for sale, such as fruits and vegetables.

The donated 1928 Huckster was previously owned by Harry Owens of the Stone Barn Farm in Bar Harbor in the 1960s. The MacQuinns bought the Huckster from Owens in 1994, with the intention of restoring the automobile; however, Mr. MacQuinn passed away before he was able to complete the restoration. His friends Les Brewer, Gordon Young Jr, Craig Robbins, and others recently finished the job Mr. MacQuinn had always wanted completed.

The 1926 Ford Model T donated by Mrs. MacQuinn is a two door sedan with a rebuilt engine and new upholstery. It is currently under mechanical restoration in preparation for giving rides to museum visitors.

View photos of the donated Fords

Alternative Energy Day

August 3, 2013 Do you think of electric vehicles as new and the wave of the future? Electric cars, along with steam-powered cars, were in fact quite common at the turn of the last century, before gasoline became the standard fuel for automobiles. Visitors can explore alternatively powered vehicles of the past and future at the Seal Cove Auto Museum’s Alternative Energy Day, on Saturday, August 3.

As a part of the event there will be demonstrations of alternatively fueled cars of the future, such as the solar-powered SUNN EV vehicle built by students at College of the Atlantic, in partnership with the museum, in 2010. Art Haines, of Applied Robotics Company in Norridgewock, manufacturer of the SUNN EV kit, will be on hand to discuss the solar car and demonstrate how it works.

Visitors will additionally have the opportunity to learn about the battle between electric, steam and gasoline powered vehicles in the early 1900s, through exploration of these vehicles in the museum’s collection. These include such autos as the 1908 Rauch & Lange electric car, the 1913 Kimball electric car, the 1914 Stanley Steamer Mountain Wagon and the 1910 White MM. The White MM used a more advanced technology than the basic steam technology of the Stanley steam cars, operating more like an internal combustion power plant and giving it the advantages of both gas and steam.

The documentary Who Killed the Electric Car will be playing throughout the day in the museum’s theater.

Author Presentation

July 13, 2013 Author Robert Dluhy presented on his upcoming book, American Automobiles of the Brass Era, at the Seal Cove Auto Museum on a recent July Saturday. This book is the culmination of four years of research to document over 4,000 American gasoline automobiles manufactured during the Brass Era (1906 - 1915). The evolution of the autos’ specifications during this period is analyzed to give an overview of where each model fits in the spectrum of the very large number of models manufactured.

The technical evolution of cars during this time was amazingly rapid and largely trial and error. Sixty percent of the manufacturers did not survive more than two years, yet there were newcomers each and every year to replace the failed ones. Optimism and eagerness never waned during this era.

Robert Dluhy has been active in the antique car hobby since 1976 and has completed several restorations. His most recent acquisition is a 1913 Hudson Model 37 Torpedo. He has a library of automobile books consisting of over two thousand volumes; most were published before World War II, many during the Brass Era period.

Building Expansion

June 30, 2013 Construction has begun on an expansion of the Seal Cove Auto Museum facilities. The 25 by 74 foot addition will consist of a garage and storage area, providing more space in the existing main building for rotating education exhibits, programs and events featuring the museum’s collection of Brass Era autos.

The expansion project is being led by the Sheridan Corporation, which constructed the original building in Tremont in the 1960s, with the assistance of other contractors. The museum houses the collection of antique autos belonging to a local collector, the late Richard C. Paine, Jr. The addition is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

Among the more than 50 vehicles on display are several that are the only ones known to exist in the world. Many were ahead of their time in design, such as the 1915 F.R.P., which could achieve 80 m.p.h. and still get 12 m.p.g. Others include a 1911 Kimball Electric with ties to Maine history and a 1913 boat-tailed Peugeot with an exquisite mahogany body that is the envy of many sailors. The museum also exhibits a collection of antique motorcycles and bicycles.

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