Sep 18 2009

An Amazing Discovery from the Pickering Collection-The 1906 #10 Apperson

William Pickering was one of the earliest Long Island photographers documenting many of the people, buildings and events in Nassau County including the Vanderbilt Cup Races. On Wednesday, Catherine Pickering and I examined her collection of photos and postcards created by her grandfather. The above unmarked photo of a car accident got our attention. Was the car a Vanderbilt Cup Racer? If so, which one and what happened? I promised Catherine that I would find out, so I called for the CSI (Car Smash Investigation).

CSI Step #1: Determine the car number.


Result: A close-up of the dented tank revealed the number 10.

CSI Step #2: Check the Vanderbilt Cup Race accident database.


Result: The only #10 Vanderbilt Cup racer involved in an accident was the Apperson driven by George Robertson during a practice run for the 1906 American Elimination Trial.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 19, 1906, George Robertson destroyed the Apperson, injuring himself and riding mechanic Arthur Warren. The accident occurred on Old Westbury Road in Roslyn about one mile from the East Broadway store of William Pickering. Eyewitnesses estimated his speed at 60 miles per hour. The owners and designers of his car, Edgar and Elmer Apperson, theorized that a left rear tire blew before they struck a large tree. That impact hurled the machine into a telegraph pole broadside.The force of the accident was so great the car was wound around the pole like a piece of wire, its radiator touching its rear axle. Aside from the motor, the car was a total loss. Was the Apperson the same car as shown in the Pickering photo?


CSI Step#3: Identify common elements with other photos known to be taken at the crash scene.  

Result: The dents in the tank and the two-tank configuration are an exact match. Moreover, the same people in the Pickering photo can be seen in the other photos.

Conclusion: William Pickering had photographed George Robertson's 1906 accident of his #10 Apperson near his Roslyn store. Case closed!



February 3, 2010 Update: I recently discovered another photo of this accident taken by William Pickering at the Bryant Room Local History Collection at the Bryant Library in Roslyn.


Jan 01 2010 Rob Miller 2:45 AM

Cool site.

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