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Car of the Month

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Strive for Perfection

Bennet: Silver Wraith


Car of the Month - September 2017
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1912, #1900E


Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

As a result of in-depth research as regards the first-ever German customer who acquired a Rolls-Royce might list the English painter Sir Hubert von Herkomer. His family’s roots were in Bavaria where in 1899 he had been elevated to peerage. In the United Kingdom, too, he was honoured by becoming knighted; hence Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

Hubert von Herkomer has been among the early owners of a Rolls-Royce motor car. Indeed he ordered the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, #1900E, with Limousine coachwork by Maythorn. The delivery date of #1900E (not to be confused with #1900 that was bodied as a Landaulette by Pickford, Troun & Co.) has been 9th February 1912. No other Rolls-Royce motor car had been supplied at any earlier date to anyone from the category “German customer”. Sir Hubert did employ this automobile for but a fairly short period. He already knew that cancer had been diagnosed; the illness was rapid and a few months later his demise was to be mourned.

Accepted explanation hitherto has been that not a single picture was known of the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost that had been made to the order of Sir Hubert von Herkomer. No guarantee is given that the illustration hereunder is indeed one of #1900E – but considerable clues of circumstantial evidence. In 1913 an issue of the German magazine “Motor” did contain an advert on electric lights by ERRTEE BROLT. That was illustrated with a drawing of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost with coachwork in the form of an Open Drive Limousine (similar in design to other creations by Maythorn). It was absolutely unusual to show in a magazine published in the German Empire a Rolls-Royce because the marque from the United Kingdom at that time was almost unknown in Germany. However there might be concluded some sort of family-relationship? Rolls-Royce’ factory documents state clearly their Silver Ghost #1900E had been supplied “via Talbot & Davison” to Sir Hubert von Herkomer. – And the advert had been ordered by a gentleman with an identical family name, i.e. Romain Talbot (whose initials R.T. no doubt ignited the brand name ERRTEE, too). The advert had been filed with a label “Herkomer Automobile” (Herkomer cars). All in all it is more than merely a fair guess that the drawing does show the Silver Ghost with chassis-number #1900E: 

Silver Ghost

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Sir Hubert von Herkomer has been a very prominent figure in early automobilism. In 1904 Sir Hubert had donated to the Bavarian Automobil-Club a very valuable Trophy made from Sterling Silver that he had designed. Duly named "Herkomerpreis" (Herkomer Trophy) this ignited the "Herkomerfahrten" (Herkomer competitions) which were highly attractive with participants from several countries and an international audience. During a meeting in 1904 to check preparations the atmosphere was so funny that Sir Hubert did scratch a cartoon of a farmer who screamed blue murder on the accidental death of one of his geese:

Herkomer: Malefiz