Feb 22 2020

VanderbiltCupRaces.com Exclusive: The Last Known Surviving Poster for the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race

My favorite co-author Al Velocci and I met in 2003  researching the Motor Parkway and Vanderbilt Cup Races at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. With the permission of the museum, we were able to discover thousands of documents and photos over the years including the last known surviving poster for the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

Nailed to trees and telegraph poles or pasted to barns in the summer of 1904, the hard paper posters (36" x 20") from the American Automobile Association announced the first international automobile competition to be held in the United States. In addition to promoting the Saturday, October 8, 1904, race date and the early 6:00 am start around the 30-mile course, the poster enumerated rules of conduct for crossing the public roads and monitoring the whereabouts of animals with a warning “chain your dogs and lock up your fowls!” The poster drew the ire of many Nassau County farmers who used the roads to bring their goods to New York City.

Thirty-eight years after the 1904 race, it was doubtful that any of these paper posters had survived until William K. Vanderbilt. Jr. received a letter from S.H.P. Pell of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.


Howard Kroplick

Courtesy of the Vanderbilt Museum (Provided by Al Velocci)

On May 5, 1942, S.H.P. Pell, the director of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, offered Willie K. an original 1904 poster.

"I have one that I took off a tree after the race and will be very glad to send it along to you." 

In May 1942, the poster was delivered to Vanderbilt's home in Centerport.

On June 1, 1942, Willie K. thanked Pell for the gift .

Stephen H.P. Pell was considered the "Restorer of Fort Ticonderoga". The fort property had been in his family since the 1700s. He was thirty years old when he attended the 1904 Race and removed the poster as a souvenir.

Reproduction of the 1904 Poster

The Only Known Surviving 1904 Poster

The surviving poster still resides in the archives of the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, New York. (2003 photo courtesy of Howard Kroplick.)


Feb 23 2020 Brian D McCarthy 8:53 AM

Must have been a nice surprise for Mr. Vanderbilt. Good timing as well.

Feb 23 2020 Walt Gosden 9:04 AM

Wonderful artifact ! thank you for sharing this with us.
Walt G.

Feb 23 2020 Sheri Mignano 9:13 AM

Great work! sleuthing is well rewarded in these priceless artifacts!

Feb 23 2020 Michael Cain 2:56 PM

Very happy to see this historic artifact safely in good hands.

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