[Los Angeles, Ca. ca. 1917-1935]. Forty-six photographs, the majority measuring 8 x 10 inches and mounted on linen; twenty-eight pieces of advertising ephemera. All items in clear plastic sleeves. Contemporary three-ring textured black limp vinyl binder with "Samson Tires" in gilt on front cover. Some wear to extremities of binder. A few items with minor chips and tears. Very good. Item #WRCAM55671
An interesting collection of materials documenting the construction and operations of the Samson Tire & Rubber Corporation's new factory in Los Angeles (now the City of Commerce). In 1928, in the midst of the tire and rubber boom of the decade, Samson Tire founder Adolph Schleicher decided to enlarge his operations. He contracted with the architectural firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements, one of the oldest and most prolific firms in the city, who designed many of Los Angeles' landmark buildings dating back to the late 1800s (including the Mayan and El Capitan theaters); they broke ground in January, 1929. Fifteen photos, stamped in the negative noting the architecture firm and J.V. McNeil Co. Contractors, portray early construction from grading to framing and finally interior shots approaching completion. The building was distinct. Schleicher started his company in 1918 in Compton, and named it "Samson" after the biblical figure, to symbolize strength and endurance. In the spirit of Samson, the architects set forth an Art Deco take on the seventh-century BCE palace of Assyrian King Sargon II. The wall surrounding the plant featured heraldic griffins and bas-reliefs of Babylonian princes. When the $8,000,000 plant opened in 1930, it was the largest manufacturing facility under one roof west of the Mississippi, with the capacity to produce upwards of 6,000 tires and 10,000 tubes a day. Another group of nineteen photos, most captioned in the negative or with typed labels pasted on, show work inside the factory, including: "Washing crude rubber," "Wrapping tubes before vulcanizing," "Hand finishing fabric tires," and "Applying non-skid tread on fabric tire." The advertising material is varied, including a pamphlet touting the new factory, photos of tires on and off vehicles, and a series of reproduced letters from satisfied customers with emphases added for promotional purposes. The senders are mostly California companies, such as Progress Features (film producers), several service stations, bus lines, and cab companies. There is also a letter from J.A. Forthmann of the Los Angeles Soap Co. confirming his purchase of stock and and taking on his role as a director for Samson Tire in 1917 and a company Christmas card from Walter P. Chrysler. Finally there is a group photo of the Samson company's executives, and a shot of actress Jean Carmen with Leiland Irish of McClaren Tire Co. Unfortunately, Schleicher's timing could not have been worse. The stock market crash that began in October, 1929, put the brakes on the Samson tire business. Not long after the factory opened, he was forced to sell it to U.S. Tire & Rubber Co. (now Uniroyal) in 1931. An interesting look into the tire manufacturing boom of the 1920s, when Southern California became the "Akron of the West."