For this October 2017 featured ephemera article focuses on Motometer item-related patents.  Such original items are extremely rare to come by, let alone be acquired by dedicated motometer automobilia collectors.  Finding such an item would be a great coup and a remarkable item for display in any serious motometer collection, bar none!  However, there can only be one original.







As shown above in the U. S. Patent and Trademark Official Gazette, (Volume 289, August 21, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., page 622) reported the filing (September 23, 1920) of a “Motometer Guards” by Charleston, West Virginia’s George Mess.


By the early 1920s the BOYCE MOTO-METER™ was an already very popular automobile accessory within the growing automobile ownership community and general population at-large.  This popularity included thieves who did not want to pony up $2.50 to $15.00 for their own temperature indicator.


It was around this time that the Moto-Meter Company and others began to respond to the problem and general complaint of MOTO-METER™ theft and began to invent, manufacture and sell various motometer “retaining” devices.”  One of these hoping to cash in on this new, prospective MOTO-METER™ theft prevention accessory product opportunity was fledgling inventor George B. Mess of Charleston, West Virginia.

George envisioned a motometer-retaining device based upon a pivoting lever that would level itself after being placed within an automobile’s radiator tank filler tube chamber area with a spring assist and pre-installed motometer.

Shown is a preliminary Patent Drawing with George Mess hand-scribed notations on it that was also acquired with the original issued U. S. Patent document. This document clearly shows all of the device’s components and actuating mechanisms.




As you can see on the first page of George Mess’ Patent it has the official USPTO certificate ornateness, official issued Patent Number (1388190) and date (August 23, 1921 ribbon, wax seal and (acting) Commissioner’s signature.


George licensed the manufacturing and commercial sale rights to the Stant Machine Company (founded in 1898) of Connersville, Indiana.  The Stant Company is most famously known for working with the Ford Motor Company an, in fact, designed and manufactured the Quail auto mascot (for the Model A in 1927) and numerous radiator cap versions over time, among other auto manufacturers including Lincoln, Packard, Pierce Arrow and Auburn.  Today the Stant Company primarily supplies replacement parts for Ford vehicles through auto supply chain stores.


Unfortunately, according to the Stant Company by letter, George’s Motometer Guard had a practical use design limitation that restricted its greater commercial sales potential.  (The Stant Company neglected to say that they had a similar design product of their own making that they were more heavily promoting.)


George also sought to have the Moto-Meter Company sell his product, however they were already using and selling a device extraordinarily similar to the Lee Moto-Meter lock (shown here).  That particular device was known as the Schlaich Moto-Meter lock.











Lee Moto-Meter Lock June 1921 version, Automobile Trade Journal

Volume 25, Number 12, June 1, 1921, page 98.


By 1921 there were many vehicle and motometer theft prevention products on the market, particularly as there was no key- or electronically operated ignition locking devices on vehicles at he time and theft was rampant.  Articles like this one, “Preventing Theft of Radiator Caps” from June of 1921 Scientific American journal (Volume 124, June 11, 1921, page 463) and the following “Motometer Stolen” Corning, NY Evening Leader newspaper article (Friday, December 13, 1924, Page 10) make clear that radiator cap and motometer theft, in particular were frequent occurrences.


Lee Moto-Meter Lock version of December 1921,

(Left) Image courtesy of Accessory and Garage Journal,

Volume 11, Number 8, December 1921, page 40 –and-

Lee Motometer Lock image

(Right) from rare, lone surviving ADCO catalog


The Schlaich Lock for the De Luxe BOYCE MOTO-METER Ad from Motor Age,

Volume 39, Number 9, March 3, 1921, page 54


Radiator Cap Locking Devices List, Automobile Trade Directory, October 1921, Volume 19, Number 4, Page 538


Each of the motometer locking devices was modestly successful to a certain degree, though the Schlaich Lock was more successful due to its “inventor’s” close association with the Moto-Meter Company and their decision to include it with their De Luxe Type BOYCE MOTO-METER products in March 1927.  These locks could be had free of cost if someone purchased the largest De Luxe BOYCE MOTO-METER or for a relative small cost from the J. C. McAdams Sales Co. the auto accessory distributorship of New York.

Being as which most original motometer and related products are: 1) now quickly approaching 100 years of age; 2) the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office disposed of their physical copies of these documents a long time ago; and, 3) inventor families less likely to release their copies, if in their possession it is and will be highly unlikely that anymore original motometer product patents will come available.

We know for a fact that the families of the top motometer Brand(s) are not currently in possession of such items.


As previously stated original motometer-related patents are extremely scarce and hard to acquire to the extent that the one shown is the only one in known motometer automobilia collections.  Once framed such items make very nice display components of an elite collection.

George Mess Motometer Guards Patent Descriptionfromthe USPTO Gazette on MotometerCentral.com
George Mess Motometer Guards Patent Drawing on MotometerCentral.com
George B. Mess Motometer Guards Official Patent Letter on MotometerCentral.com
Preventing Motometer Theft 1921 Article on MotometerCentral.com
Motometer Stolen 1924 News Report on MotometerCentral.com
Lee Moto-Meter Lock - June 1921 Version- on MotometerCentral.com
Lee Moto-Meter Lock - December 1921 Version- on MotometerCentral.com
Lee Moto-Meter Lock in rare 1921 ADCO Catalog on MotometerCentral.com
Schlaich Moto-Meter Lock Ad on MotometerCentral.com



SINCE 1912

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