Jan 01 2013

Edsel Ford II Needs Your Help to Find Henry’s 1901 Trophy

Vera S: I was just watching the video narrated by Edsel Ford of Henry Ford winning his first race. Curious, where is that famous cut glass punch bowl now?

Vera, this very question was addressed in the December 18, 2011 issue of the New York Times.

Happy New Year,

Howard Kroplick


WHEELS The Blog: Ford Looks For Henry's Trophy


 New York Times
Published: December 18, 2011

Edsel B. Ford II, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, left his audience at Sardi's restaurant on Tuesday with little doubt about what he wanted from them.

''I need your help,'' Mr. Ford said amid tinkling coffee cups and dessert forks. ''I'd like you to tell all your friends that Ford has lost the punch bowl, and we want it back.''

The story sounds like a Hardy Boys novel, but this tale of a racing victory and a trophy that is missing has 110 years' worth of plot twists, which Mr. Ford enumerated at the monthly luncheon of the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society, a regional sports car club, in Midtown.

It all began on Oct. 10, 1901, at a dirt racetrack in Grosse Pointe, Mich. While it was neither dark nor stormy, the day did not lack for drama or tension.

Henry Ford, a relative unknown, had pitted his flimsy-looking racing machine against the might of Alexander Winton, founder of the Winton Motor Carriage Company. Winton vehicles were known for their luxury and power; the Vanderbilt family was among the brand's well-heeled clientele. Meanwhile, Ford was scrambling for any good publicity after the collapse of his first automotive endeavor, the Detroit Automobile Company.

During the lunch in Midtown, Mr. Ford referred to his great-grandfather's racecar as a cross between ''an oversize baby carriage and small grand piano.'' Yet the vehicle featured some novel engineering, including an ignition system built with the help of Henry Ford's dentist. Elements of its construction included denture enamel. The car ''definitely looked like it was half-finished, but it had an elegant name: Sweepstakes,'' said Mr. Ford.

In front of 8,000 spectators at the Detroit Driving Club in Grosse Pointe, the Ford and Winton racecars faced each other in a 10-lap sprint. Winton's car took an early lead; its engine had nearly three times the horsepower of the Ford. But by the seventh lap, the Winton was smoking and sputtering, allowing Ford and his Sweepstakes racecar to streak past and claim victory.

The outcome was a complete shock, especially for Winton. He had been enticed to compete with the promise that he could personally select the winner's trophy. Winton chose an elegant cut glass punch bowl with matching cups, a suitable display piece, he thought, for his home in Cleveland.

Despite its historical significance, the punch bowl has been missing for 60 years. It was sold at auction after the death of Henry Ford's wife, Clara, in 1950. Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York sold the bowl as Lot No. 20 to an unnamed buyer in 1951. The bowl's provenance had apparently gone unnoticed to everyone.

After extensive research by the Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Mich., the trail has gone cold, with the bowl last traced to a store called the Garden Shop in New York. The store's whereabouts, as well as the exact wares sold there, are unknown to the museum's researchers. Yet Mr. Ford is convinced that the punch bowl exists and that the Chowder Society, with connections throughout the region's collector car and automobilia communities, could help recover it.

Founded in 1957, the club holds its monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month in a private room at Sardi's, on West 44th Street in the theater district. It's the kind of club where a member earns a raffle prize when the emcee asks the audience, ''Who owns a Mercedes?'' and the winner has 16 of them in his garage.

Just one photo of the punch bowl exists, and in case anyone is inclined to pass off a copy of the bowl, Mr. Ford curtly offers a disincentive. ''There is no reward,'' he said.

Mr. Ford also concedes that the punch bowl could ''very well be under our noses and we don't even know it.'' Only 12 years ago, during a restoration of its 1901 Sweepstakes replica racecar, Ford Motor discovered that it was, in fact, the actual car driven by Ford to victory in 1901.




Jan 01 2013 Ted 11:42 PM

Very interesting about Henry Ford’s Trophy,that it could still exist,but who was that person who bought it and what did he do with it,or where did it go from there, that’s the question.Someone out there will find it,now that it’s in the open,like always,you just have to know the know how,to find it Good luck. By the way do you know about The Classics at the Taj Mahal on March 1 in Atlantic City?

Jan 06 2013 Art Shifrin 1:06 AM

H Howard,

Have you tried Wayne Carini?


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