Aug 19 2014

Mystery Foto #81 Solved: A Cup Associated with the 1911 Aurora Trophy Race Won by Mortimer Roberts

Jason Benedict was looking for details on an early race trophy won by driver Mortimer J. Roberts in an Abbott-Detroit.

Answers to the Mystery Foto question:

-Identify the race associated with the trophy

This cup was associated with thew Aurora Trophy Race held on August 25, 1911 in Elgin, Illinois. Three cars with a cubic displacement of 161-230 inches complete, Mortimer Roberts in an Abbott-Detroit, his teammate A.M. Robbins in another Abbott-Detroit and Frank Kulick in a Ford. The race distance was 135 miles on an 8.5 mile course. In was held in conjunction with the 1911 Elgin Races held on August 25 and 26, 1911. The 1911 Elgin National Trophy race was the last major race for the Alco Black Beast.

-Provide any other information on the trophy

The race was won by Mortimer Roberts in an Abbott-Detroit in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 11 seconds, matching the information on Jason's cup.

However, it is unclear whether Jason's cup was the original Aurora Trophy or a piece of memorabilia from the race. There is currently no kinown images of the original Aurora Trophy.

Congrats to Ariejan Bos, Art Kleiner, Greg O. and Steve Lucas for correctly identifying the race associated with the cup. Kudos to Ariejan, Greg and Art for submitting supporting documents.

Any suggested Mystery Fotos can be emailed to me at


Howard Kroplick

Background  Information

Mortimer, brother of driver Montague Roberts, finished second in an Abbott-Detroit in the 1910 Massapequa Sweepstakes. However, the details on the trophy do not match the 1910 race held in conjucnction with the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

Jason has provided the following information and photos:

Greetings all, trying to find some information about an early race trophy won by Abbott-Detroit driver Mortimer J. Roberts.  It is undated and the name of the race won is not inscribed on the cup.  

The trophy has the following inscription;

Won By
Mortimer J. Roberts, Driver
Distance 135 miles, 3,024 feet
Total Time 2 Hours, 31 Minutes, 11 Seconds
Average 53.80 Miles Per Hour

On the opposite side it shows two cars racing side by side surrounded by a wreath.  Any information identifying the race for which this was given would be greatly appreciated.  The trophy is Sterling Silver and stands approx 12" tall.  It is in it's original unpolished condition.Thank you all for your time and expertise.  Great website.



Aurora Trophy Race- August 25, 1911

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Submitted by Ariejan Bos

Kleiner's Korner

Submitted by Art Kleiner

Submitted by Greg O.

New York Times, August 26, 1911


"Trophy values at $750: $300 in cash and $450 in equipment"


Aug 15 2014 Ariejan Bos 8:36 AM

This is the Aurora Cup, which was won by Mortimer Roberts at Elgin on August 25, 1911. The race for the Aurora Cup was meant for stock cars from 161 to 230 ci displacement and was run on the same day as the Elgin National Trophy. The full story can be read in the Automobile Topics’ issue of September 2, 1911 on p.1107 ff. 2 1911 Automobile topics Elgin&f=false

Aug 15 2014 Art Kleiner 11:49 PM

-Identify the race associated with the trophy
Trophy was won for winning the Aurora Cup, one of three races run on 8/25/11 at the Elgin, Ill. Raceway. The Aurora trophy race was for cars from 201 - 361 cubic inches of displacement.

-Provide any other information on the trophy
The trophy was valued at $750, $300 in cash and $450 in equipment and possibly was provided by the Elgin National Watch Company which provided the trophy for the more distinguished National Cup also run at Elgin.  As per documentation being sent Howard, this trophy may only be one of four Elgin cups still around.

Aug 16 2014 Greg O. 3:21 PM

This is the trophy that Mortimer Roberts won for The Aurora Cup race in Elgin, Illinois Aug 25, 1911.

Aug 17 2014 Herbert 12:54 AM

Herb here,
I know all about Moritimer or “Less time Rob” is what we called him ,back in the days of abbott racing. If this cup is the original, it is the holy grail of racing cups. Rumors are, if you drink a bottle of Brut champagne from the cup before the race, you were guaranteed a win. If this is real, which is highly suspect since the Chinese have faked this very cup with producing upwards of 600,000 phonies, I am prepared to open my checkbook and offer you what ever you are asking.


Aug 17 2014 Steve Lucas 2:58 PM

That looks like the Aurora Cup, awarded during a series of 4 races run as the National Stock Chassis Road Races on the Elgin (illinois) Road Race Circuit in August 25-26, 1911. The four races were for varying distances with the Aurora Cup being the shortest at 135 miles. The other 3 races were the Kane County Cup (169 miles), Illinois Cup (203 miles), and the Elgin National Trophy Cup (305 miles). The ALCO Black Beast (along with 2 other ALCOs) was entered in the Elgin Cup but did not finish.

Aug 19 2014 Ariejan Bos 10:20 AM

Hi Herbert,

Your story really amazes me. Though I’m not an automobilia collector, it seems to me that it is virtually impossible not to have seen ever one of this enormous amount of phonies?! And why this one, which in my opinion wasn’t the most important cup of that day? Anyway, even if it is true, it won’t be too difficult to test this cup on authenticity.


Aug 19 2014 Jason Benedict 8:43 PM

Thanks so much for everyone’s efforts in solving this mystery. It’s great to be able to link this trophy back to a race won over 100 yrs ago.  I have to ask if anyone has ever seen any memorabilia from that era similar to this as one suggested?  It seems unlikely to me that such a large sterling silver trophy with the elaborate engraving would of been available to spectators.  I don’t know what Sterling cost back in 1911, but one would have to have been very well off to afford such a piece I’d imagine.  And, would would it make sense that memorabilia would have the actual winners name, times, speed etc…engraved on the cup?  You would think it would be very basic and just say “Aurora Race 1911”, or something to that effect.  The next question I may ask of all of you, would be the value of such a piece today as is?  I realize now it’s not the premiere trophy of the day, but it’s only one of four Elgin Trophy’s known to exist today.  Thanks again for all of your expertise and look forward to any future comments.

Aug 19 2014 Jason Benedict 9:18 PM

I found that the Sterling proof mark is that of Meriden Britannia Company, CT.  They made silver flatwear, jewelery, trophies etc…

Aug 21 2014 Jason Benedict 8:17 PM

The Aurora Trophy is available for anyone who might be interested in adding it to their collection.  I can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Thank you all once again for your assistance in identifying this trophy.

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