Penciled in darkly on the upper right hand corner of a hand drawn advertising proof is the mark Wm. E. Lickfield 5/37. It’s upfront in its truth, but similarly cryptic as it reveals very little to me. On it’s face, this line tells us both the name of the artist and when he marked this creation. However, nearly 81 years later, the name and the date are not very enlightening; not even with a google search. Before I get any further, allow me to share with you an interesting eBay find:
As you probably already know, 1935-1937 was a great time of flux for the American Bantam Car Co. The company introduced its cars prematurely for 1937 with drawing of vehicles that were never built. If I recall correctly, that brochure featured the sketchings of a former Ford designer who imparted a fairly dated look onto the nimble economy cars. The cars were subsequently redesigned by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and the earliest date of completion of a Bantam vehicle was on December 28, 1937.
Seven months prior to the completion of the first American Bantam it seems as though someone sketched out this advertisement. Just a few thoughts, in May of 1937, it isn’t clear that the design for the Bantam was close to finalized let alone many other details of the car. This may be lend an insight into the fact that the illustration is fairly generic, that the few words on the ad are also quite generic, and that the logo was heavily based upon the Union Pacific Railroad symbol.
You could spend a bit of time picking out all of the differences and eccentricities that this sketch exhibits, but look closely at the words American Bantam. Does that font look familiar? Sure it isn’t slanted 15 degrees to the right, but look at how rounded those A’s are. We may be looking at the origin of the font which came to define our beloved brand.
If you search the name William E. Lickfield, you will find two results for the 20th century. One gentleman lived in Camden, New Jersey and the other appears to have had a presence in Philadelphia, PA. The Lickfield from Philadelphia has a few entries in history related to typefaces, typesetting, and type design. Perhaps this advertisement was done as a requirement for a job application? Whatever its motivation, it is clear that this artist was very skilled with type design.
The eBay listing indicates that the item is located in Bristol, PA which isn’t too far from Philadelphia. The ad states that Mr. Lickfield worked at American Bantam. While I don’t have any other information to offer in substantiating that claim, I think this piece is fascinating. If you are interested in the history of the American Bantam Car Co., perhaps you need to add this to your collection. Without more than an eBay description, it is difficult to really know the provenance of this piece, but it is, nevertheless, cool.
Click here to see the listing: Bantam Advertisement
Also, if you’re not looking for a collectible at this time, but you want to tighten up your loose Bantam spindles, perhaps you may be interested in a pair of king pins.
Click here to see the listing Bantam king pins
Have a great weekend!