By Michael Edwards
2021 review by Autolycus
The title of this book may put off those who have been enchanted by Michael Edwards’s previous works on De Dion Bouton – because it appears from its title to be no more than a bibliography of other works on this make.
It is nothing of the sort. Admittedly, the book starts with ten pages of introduction that delve into the publications that chronicled the rise of the De Dion Bouton company, followed by fourteen pages of comprehensive ‘General Sources’ that direct serious researchers to places where the detail of general De Dion Bouton history can be found. But then commence the main chapters. Each one starts with a ‘potted history’ and finishes with more sources for the topic in that chapter. Those chapters are:
- Company History
- Steam Vehicles, Engines & Other Machinery
- Tricycles 1896-1902
- Passenger Vehicles 1899-1904
- On Show & on the Road 1896-1904 (exhibitions, trials, racing etc.)
- Passenger Vehicles 1905-1914
- The War Years 1914-1918
- Commercial Vehicles 1905-1914
- Passenger Vehicles 1919-1931
- Commercial Vehicles 1919-1931.
This layout can at first appear a little confusing, but it makes the book a delight to use. Those who simply want to read the De Dion Bouton history in summary can skip the sources at the end of each chapter; those who want to find out more can go and find those sources in physical or digital libraries. And if that might appear to be a daunting, even impossible task, the book provides a very useful list of the main library collections and how to access them, from the British Library in the UK, through France, Belgium, Germany and Holland to many resources in the USA.
The whole book is chock full of beautiful contemporary black and white photographs, De Dion Bouton publicity material (much of it in colour) and images of front covers of the main historical sources, including the main books on the company. One can get seriously hooked on all this, wanting to trawl the internet to add to one’s library (unfortunately, a costly enterprise these days).
The book brings to light the vast range of products manufactured by De Dion Bouton from 1896 to its sad demise in 1931. Getting happily lost in its pages is an ideal way to spend one’s time in these restricted days.
Publisher: Surrenden Press (surrendenpress.com/shop)
Price: £45 plus postage and packing (£8 in the UK; for other countries, calculated for you on the website)
Description: Published in 2020 with the financial assistance of the Michael Sedgwick Memorial Trust. Hardback in illustrated covers, published without dust jacket (235 x 304 mm), 227 pages; copious black & white and colour images.