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SNAPSHOT 26: Star 1902

The Georgano Encyclopædia gives six different makes of motorcars that bore the name Star but the one that concerns us here is that which after more than a decade of cycle-making had become the Star Cycle Company of Wolverhampton in December 1896 and then changed its title to the Star Motor Co in 1898. In later years Star claimed that it had started making motorcars in 1897 but the first recorded appearance of any Star motor vehicles was at the July 1899 Agricultural Hall Motor Show in London when a De Dion Bouton pattern motor tricycle and a pair of ‘Star-Benz’ motorcars were exhibited. As press reports stated, the cars were of the Benz pattern “but are throughout of English construction”.

A 6hp front-engined light car was offered in 1901 and a two-cylinder 8hp “of the Panhard-type” was produced for 1902 and it is that which is shown in this image.

Although experimental work on colour photography had been carried out through most of the second half of the 19th century it was not really until the Lumière brothers introduced their ‘autochrome’ process in 1907 that a reliable method became available. An example of the very impressive results that this process gave can be seen at Snapshot Number 8.

So for this 1902 advert Star had to rely on one of the various other techniques that had evolved whereby black & white photographs could be coloured prior to printing. The car here has been treated with a considerable degree of accuracy, its various colours almost certainly taken from an actual vehicle, whilst the background is much more ‘artistic’ in nature, looking very like a watercolour landscape painting.

Two specific points are of note. One is that the tyres were light grey, as was generally the case at this period, the other is the fact that the car’s bonnet is a different colour from the coachwork. The Coventry Daimlers had this feature from their earliest days and on into the first two or three years of the 20th century, so presumably Star thought it was a good idea too. Today if one ventured forth in a car from this early era and the bonnet was not the same colour as the body, it would be assumed that the owner had run out of paint!

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