Aug 02 2016

Mystery Foto #31 Solved: Willie K and Birdie Vanderbilt at the 1899 Newport Parade in a Locomobile

Bruce Adams challenged you to identify this weekend's Mystery Friday Foto.

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the husband and wife

21-Year old William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and  24-year old Virginia "Birdie" Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilts were married six months earlier in New York City.

  • What event was captured in the photo?

The first automobile parade ever held in Newport, Rhode Island

  • What is the date of the photo?

Friday, September 8, 1899

  • Bonus: Identify the automobile

An 1899 Locomobile Steamer

Congrats to Ariejan Bos (see Bos' Bonus), Steve Lucas, Greg O., Art Kleiner(see Kleiner's Korner), and Florence Ogg for identifying the newlyweds Willie K. and Birdie Vanderbilt. Kudos to Ariejan Bos and Art Kleiner for identifying the Newport parade held in September 1899 in a Locomobile.


Howard Kroplick

Automobiles in the September 8, 1899 Newport Parade

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and Virginia "Birdie" Vanderbilt in a 1899 Locomobile Steamer

This photo is hanging in Alva Vanderbilt Belmont's Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island, courtesy of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum.


The Vanderbilts received first prize for speed.

Submitted by Art Kleiner

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Tessie Fair Oelrichs and W.G. Max Muller (Of the British Embassy)

Tessie Oelrichs , Virginia Vanderbilt's sister, and Muller won first prize for decorations. Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and H.J. Gerard in a golf rig

Yes, that's Willie K's mother! Submitted by Art Kleiner

Submitted by Art Kleiner

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Mrs. John Jacob Astor and Harry Lehr

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

H.R. Taylor and Miss Marie Winthrop

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Phoenix Ingraham and Miss Scott in an electric Golf Brake

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Reginald Ronalds (a Rough Rider) with Mrs.John R. Drexel

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Roger Wintrop's Winton Gasoline Phaeton

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Bos' Bonus (Submitted by Ariejan Bos)

The Automobile Magazine, October 1899

The Horseless Age, September 20, 1899

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 8, 1899

The Automobile Magazine, October 1899

Rhode Island Guide to the Smallest State, 1937


Jul 29 2016 Howard Kroplick 1:39 PM

From Ariejan Bos:

Today’s mystery made me wander around a little at first and I was not very hopeful until a lucky shot guided me into the right direction. Above the articles from The Automobile Magazine (October 1899) and from The Horseless Age (Sept. 20 1899).

The mystery photo shows William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., and his wife Mrs. Vanderbilt (Virginia Graham Fair) during the floral parade on September 8, 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island. He is driving a Locomobile steamer. Prizes were awarded for speed, decoration and skillful driving. It will not be surprising that Vanderbilt won the award for speed! It may seem incredible now that The Automobile Magazine spent 13 pages on a description of this event, however it gives a good insight in the way the automobile landed in high society circles and what they used it for in the very beginning!


Jul 29 2016 Ted 4:25 PM

I’ve seen this picture before,but don’t remember what the event was for. The car looks like a horseless carriage. I thought I’d do this now,while I’ve got time.I don’t know what’s going on this weekend yet

Jul 30 2016 Chuck Rudy 7:29 PM

Husband and wife?  Right now, no clue. 
Event?  I will guess a marriage
Date?  1903
Bonus?  1903 Curved Dash Olds

Hopefully I trip over something in time, but it’s not looking good.

Jul 31 2016 S. Berliner, III 1:46 AM

Easy- it’s Jack {Petal to the Metal) Inthepulpit and his wife Daisy (née Floradora) in their 1898 Car-Nation at the 30 Feb 1899 Rose Bowl parade.  I don’t have the stamena to continue.

Jul 31 2016 Ed 9:20 PM

Looks like taken in Newport RI about 1899 or so car un known   too many flowers.

Jul 31 2016 Steve Lucas 11:04 PM

Could that be Willie K. and his first wife Virginia (Birdie) at the re-opening of the “Idle Hour” estate in 1901, having been rebuilt after the fire of 1899? The car might be a Renault.

Jul 31 2016 Greg O. 11:59 PM

Good one Bruce! Couldn’t find out too much for this one. Just taking a wild stab at it and I’m not very confident on the guess…

Willie K Vanderbilt Jr. and his first wife Virginia Birdie Graham Fair maybe sometime around their wedding in 1899, -judging by the car, floral decorations and how young they look. (Although their wedding was on a Sunday and not a Friday)
Willie K did like Mercedes/Daimler at the time and it looks like it could possibly be an early Daimler.

Aug 01 2016 Art Kleiner 6:02 AM

Identify the husband and wife: Willie K. and wife, Virginia Graham Fair
What event was captured in the photo?: Newport Automobile Parade
What is the date of the photo? September 7, 1899
Bonus: Identify the automobile: Locomobile

Aug 01 2016 Howard Kroplick 4:21 PM

From Florence Ogg:

If I remember the correctly the photo of the Vanderbilts in a car was taken in Newport at an annual event with many other decorated cars. Somewhere in the SCVM archives there is a photo in one of the albums of that event including the photo shown. Good luck.

Aug 02 2016 S. Berliner, III 11:50 AM

Hey - I got the year right!  I still like my response best but - OMG - those decorations!  Whooie!  Nice to be filthy rich with all kinds of retainers to do the cars up brown for you.  Sam, III

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