Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Archival Photos and Provenance of Our Compound Automobile

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

As the historian for our museum, it doesn't get much better when a piece of history is found for one of our automobiles. Or, in this case, some vintage photographs.

Awhile back, Albert Nippert sent us the negatives of some photos of our 1906 Compound Model 7 1/2 light touring car. The photos were taken in 1940, and show the car "as purchased" by Nippert's friend Walter Levino, owner of the Levino Auto Shop in Peerskill, New York. It was complete and in good, unrestored condition.

Levino was this Compound's third owner. Its original owner was John Unser, the chief engineer and supervisor of the EHV Co. (manufacturer of the Compound). Unser quit driving it in 1912, and in 1934 sold it at auction for $17 to Howard S. Hall. Hall displayed the Compound in the the showroom of his father's Nash and Dodge dealership in Carthage, New York. It was there where Levino, a Pine Camp soldier, discovered it. He was able to buy it from Hall's widow in 1940.

Courtesy of David Bishop
Levino held onto the Compound until 1951, and then sold it to Henry Austin Clark, owner of the Long Island Auto Museum in New York. Clark described it as "one of the cleanest original cars" he had ever seen and claimed that he "ran it as is." The registration states the car was green in color, as shown at right.

In 1964 William Harrah purchased the Compound at an auction of Clark's autos. While in the Harrah's Automobile Collection in Nevada, the car received one of their no-expense-spared, Gold Star restorations beginning in late 1964. It was painted gray and upholstered with burgundy seats. Bill Harrah is shown at right (seated next to the driver) after its restoration. My notes show that General William Lyons of California was the Compound's next owner, but I have been unable to confirm this.

Photo at Magee Museum in 1993
 courtesy of David Bishop
The Compound traveled back to the eastern U.S. after being acquired by Bill and Doug Magee. The Magees had a collection of pre-1915, Connecticut-made automobiles and a small museum at their Meadowview Farm in Middlefield, CT. They installed a new top and side curtains, painted the wheels, added gray Michelin tires, and totally rebuilt the Compound's motor. They took it on a VMMCA 1 & 2-cylinder tour in the mid-90s in Barstow, KY, but it broke down.

Carl Schmitt of Walla Walla, Washington bought the Compound at an auction of Magee automobiles in 1998. We purchased the car from Carl Schmitt's estate in 2008, and are very happy to have this unique car in our collection. We are also delighted to have such a detailed history of its ownership, and thank Albert Nippert and David Bishop for sharing their photos with us.

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!

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