July 20, 2010

A family business

This was the day the first Model A rolled out the door more than a century ago.

It was not this Model A – – that’s the Model A of 1931, the one that Clyde Barrow wrote Henry Ford a fan letter about.  It’s this Model A, the car that the Ford Motor Company manufactured for its first year and a half:

H. A. Lewis Fonds, MG 108, University of Saskatchewan Archives.

By the time Henry Ford got this Model A into production he was 40 years old, had started two previous companies – both failed – and he had gone through all but $222 of the $28,000 he’d scraped together from twelve investors.

But pricey as it was – $750, about eighteen grand now – the Model A  sold immediately and his fledgling company began to make a profit. Over the next year, 1,750 Model As were sold.

Henry Ford in 1888

It’s hard not to think of Henry Ford as that  tidy, white-haired old duffer who went around tipping people with shiny dimes, but he was a young and energetic entrepreneur when the picture at left was taken.  He was an inventor and engineer without much formal training who was eventually granted 161 patents. He did not believe in accountants and not once while he was in charge was the company ever audited.  He bought out most of his investors and the Ford Motor Company continues to be family-controlled.

There are many unattractive aspects to his character – he was anti-labor and anti-semitic and a pacifist for the most mundane of reasons: war interfered with business.  His famous wage of $5 a day, more than twice the going rate, was a shrewd practical move that insured minimal turnover and highly skilled workers.  (The modern equivalent is about $111.)  He revolutionized production with the assembly line and was one of the first large manufacturers to adopt the 8-hour day and 40-hour week.

Incidentally, that leather cover on the Model A was not standard – it was an option that cost another fifty dollars.

Many happy returns

Santana's first album, Lee Conklin, artist.

to Emma Peel, aka Diana Rigg.  The Avenger is 72 years old.  Kim Carnes is 62 and it’s also Carlos Santana’s 63d birthday, which gives me the opportunity to share my friend Lee Conklin‘s wonderful work. Ageless artists all.



  1. You were right – sooooo cool! man i love that album cover…awesome!


    Comment by ninachat — July 20, 2010 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  2. very cool


    Comment by avery zia — July 26, 2010 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

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