This beautifully executed colour illustration comes from a perfect example of a company trying to attract a discerning and well-heeled clientele. It was found at the head of an advertisement for Armstrong Siddeley in the 1927 issue of “The Book of the Braemar Gathering”. These Scottish games have been held, with some gaps, since the reign of Malcolm III (1031-1093). Queen Victoria attended in 1844 and the reigning monarch has been the patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, organisers of the games, since that date – and several members of the Royal family attend the games each year, along with the cream of British society.
It is therefore not surprising that many motor car manufacturers advertised in the book of the games. Apart from Armstrong Siddeley, companies from all segments of the market have done so at some time, from Austin, Morris and Singer at the more modest end, through Alvis, Rover, Jaguar and Humber in the middle right up to Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lagonda, Bristol, Daimler and even Packard at the top – including some distinguished coachbuilders.
The advertisements have very often been unique to the book, with illustrations of exceptional quality – and this Snapshot is an example. It depicts two models current in 1927. On the left is a 14 h.p. 4-cylinder “Broadway” saloon at £375 and on the right, with the rather more patrician vee-shaped radiator, is the 18 h.p. 6-cylinder “Stirling” saloon at £495 – both prices ex works. An idea of the importance to Armstrong Siddeley of the Scottish market can be detected from the names of some of the body styles offered on the 18 h.p. around this time: the Stirling saloon seen here, and the Braemar Special Tourer. Visible on both cars is the famous Sphinx mascot whose history dates back to the Siddeley-Deasy Motor Car Company whose cars began in 1912 to use the slogan “As silent as the Sphinx” and sported, for the first time, the mascot that survived in different styles until the end of Armstrong Siddeley car production in 1960.
Although there is no discernible signature on this illustration, its style almost certainly identifies the artist as F T Steerwood, a prolific and highly talented illustrator often employed by Armstrong Siddeley alongside the rather more famous Bryan de Grineau.
We hope that you agree that this illustration captures the spirit of the times. But we are a little worried that the driver in the smaller car is not really watching out for the larger one. Never mind; if there is a prang, the advertisement tells us that there is a Service Department in Glasgow.
Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive