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The Eclipse furnished "the most beatific enjoyment."
The new-car review has always been the foundation of automotive publications. This review from 1878 may not technically qualify as a "Motoring" story but it may have been the first "new carriage" review written about a St. Louis-built vehicle.
 Eugene Papin & Co. was one of several major manufacturers of wagons and carriages that thrived in St. Louis from the middle of the 19th Century through the beginning of the horseless carriage era early in the 20th Century. During those decades many fortunes were earned here by entrepreneurs who outfitted residents, rural farmers and pioneers heading west. St. Louis businesses also served the wholesaling needs of the new western cities that were founded. Thousands of carriages and wagons were part of that lucrative trade.
             Papin & Co. was one of the successful manufacturers. Its factory was located in the 900 block of Clark Avenue, a couple of blocks west of the current Busch Stadium. Its vehicles were proudly displayed at annual expositions held in St. Louis during September, as noted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
            At its peak following the Civil War, the wagon and carriage industry supported about 80,000 manufacturers. By the end of the 19th Century their ranks had been reduced by half.
            In 1877 the Post-Dispatch noted a wagon built for a local retailer. "Mr. Gibson has had lately manufactured for him by Eugene Papin & Co. a splendid wagon, now at the Exposition, which is a beautiful specimen of work. This wagon, with others, will be used for delivery purposes. Mr. Gibson is not content with keeping the finest groceries but is determined to give them to the public at a small margin above cost. This is enterprise and liberality indeed, and we take pleasure in commending him to the ladies as prompt, courteous, attentive and reliable."
           In 1878 the Post-Dispatch again lauded the company's exposition effort. "Eugene Papin & Co. have a most elegant and tasty display of road wagons in the carriage annex. The celebrated "Eclipse" is known everywhere, and noted for its lightness, elegance and durability. The workmanship and artistic execution shown in the manufacture of their wagons and buggies have already acquired for Eugene Papin & Co. an enviable reputation. As an evidence of what this enterprising firm can do one has only to examine their present exhibit."
               A note about the company also appeared in a national trade publication, The Hub, in 1877. "Eugene Papin & Co., of St. Louis, are working full force and orders ahead for 15 jobs, part of them going to Georgia and Texas. Mr. Bolmes (the Co. of the firm) has an extensive Southern and Western acquaintance, and proposes in the spring to push matters vigorously."

The Eclipse
 The aforementioned Eclipse was described glowingly in the 1878 book "Tour of St. Louis: The Inside Life of a Great City." It was one of several "who's who" publications produced here late in the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century. The notable citizens and businesses who were fawningly described likely paid for their placement in history. Other notable carriage and wagon makers of the era did not appear in this book. The story was accompanied by a woodcut illustration of the glorious Eclipse -- which likely cost Papin & Co. a premium in addition to the cost of the placement.
 The 1878 book and news clippings refer to Papin's partner as Mr. Bolmes or Mr. Holmes.
 Herewith is the story:
Eugene Papin & Co. -- Carriages and Buggies
        There is no article made by human hands conducive of more genuine enjoyment, or more healthful and exhilarating pleasure than a perfectly made carriage or buggy. Skimming over the gentle undulations of the road, with every nerve in repose for the keen appreciation of the effects, is only a step removed from flying; while the swift luxurious motion is far more pleasurable than a siesta on the thick and lazy clouds. The great difference between the several kinds of spring vehicles made must necessarily qualify the simile: the best, like the "Eclipse," furnishing the most beatific enjoyment, while the poor buggy produces a corresponding inverse result.         The representative manufacturers of top and open buggies in the Mississippi Valley is Eugene Papin & Co., whose factory is at Nos. 900 to 908 Clark Avenue.
            Among the finest buggies made by the firm, in which the latest improved springs are used, are the "Dexter," "Saladee," "Eclipse," the last one named being, in every respect, the easiest, cheapest and best buggy ever made by any factory. Its vast superiority consists in its simplicity, lightness, strength, durability and ease of motion, representing, in short, the improvement of all others in combination, which makes the "Eclipse" superior in every feature. In addition to the points of superiority named, the "Eclipse" is the most elegant in appearance; it has no rigid perch to throw the hind wheels out of track; there can be no side motion to the buggy body when the weight is unevenly distributed on the springs; it is less liable to get out of repair; the springs are made of the best English steel, and the spring-heads provided with Saladee's improved anti-friction spools; and lastly, there is positive safety from accident in case of a broken spring, as the springs are so combined and rigidly united at the cross-centers that either of the springs may be broken without letting the body fall below the cross-stays.
             Eugene Papin & Co. also manufactures all the latest styles of buggies, and keep in stock a large number of handsome vehicles, all of which are sold as low as the superior workmanship and extra quality of the material used will admit.
             The individual members of the firm are Eugene Papin and Edward A. Bolmes. Mr. Papin is a descendant of one of the oldest St. Louis families, and the name is connected with many of the most important enterprises which have propelled our city so rapidly into the realm of metropolitan greatness.
Mr. Bolmes, the junior member, is also an old citizen, but for the last several years he has spent a greater portion of his time traveling through the South in the interest of the firm. He has a most extensive and popular acquaintance with the trade, and by his business talents he has succeeded in drawing an immense portion of the trade of that section to St. Louis which formerly went to the East. The firm is now making strenuous exertions to secure the patronage of Mexico, and already their efforts are realizing excellent returns. The enterprise and exceptional character of the carriages made by Eugene Papin & Co., entitle them to the highest consideration of the public, and their present success is an indication of a proper appreciation of their worthy efforts.

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Spit and polished!
 Polished, vintage metals gleamed under the autumn sun when about three dozen historic vehicles assembled for the annual Brass and Nickel Show on October 1 at the National Museum of Transport in Kirkwood.
          The assemblage, sponsored by the Horseless Carriage Club of Missouri, included a Ford Model A or two and a few Ford Model Ts, including a spiffy red 1914 Model T Touring owned by Don Spaeth.
 Also on hand were a highly representative sample of the gems assembled in St. Louis before the Great Depression. A 1916 Chevrolet, a rare model built in St. Louis by the Gardner Motor Co., is owned by Andy Henry. A pair of Moons and a Gardner were displayed by Wayne and Melba Nolan. One of the Moons is undergoing restoration and showed the fine woodwork that supported automotive bodies in the 1920s.
 The Moons and Gardner were parked back-to-back with the 1909 Dorris displayed by George P. Dorris III, grandson of the Dorris Motor Car Company founder.
 A pair of heavy-duty haulers, competitors nationally and locally a century ago, were parked side by side. The red and green 1920 Dorris K4 Truck is owned by another member of the family, Andrew. The huge white 1920 Traffic Truck is owned by Wayne Nolan.

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Updated October 26, 2017                                                                    




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