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Figure 1. The mule-swapper on the right examines one animal’s teeth to check its age, while the man on the left may be looking for rubbed areas that indicate that this mule would pull in a harness. William M. Brewer, “A Horse Swapping Convention,” Cosmopolitan, October 1899, 582.


FARMER STUBBLE.—Henry, I’ll tell ye what I’ll do! I’ll give ye this tourin’-car of mine, an’ a plow I ain’t used none, fer that new runabout o’ yours an’ fifty dollars. Come now!

Figure 2. A couple of farmers demonstrate the same penchant for swapping cars that they previously had for horse trading. “The Farmers’ Failing,” Puck, 16 October 1912, 7.

Figure 3. A cartoon in an auto dealers’ magazine warns against giving generous allowances on trade-ins so dilapidated even junk dealers would not take them. “Profitable Operation Depends on Ability to Reject Deals,” N.A.D.A. Bulletin, August 1937, 3.

Buying a Secondhand Car Is Almost as Risky as Buying a Secondhand Horse

Figure 4. World War I–era used-car buyers were cautioned to treat salesmen with the same suspicion they had for horse traders. Ray Goldman, “How to Buy a Second Hand Car,” Illustrated World, January 1918, 742.


GENTLEMAN IN BLACK.—Who giveth this automobile away?

SALESMAN (stepping forward).—Considering the standing of our firm, our well-known guarantee, the low price asked, and the decreased vibration, rich black body, sweet running qualities, increased power, and unsurpassed flexibility of the machine—I feel that, to all intents and purposes, I am giving her away.

GENTLEMAN IN BLACK.—John Smith, do you take this automobile for better or worse; for uphill or down; for rough roads or smooth? Do you promise to nurse her over hard going and to be tender with her tires? Do you promise to keep her in magnetos and carburetors and bearings and lubrication and enamel? To baby her when she falters; to repair her when she breaks down; and to blow about her superb running qualities all the time to everybody till the second-hand dealer do you part..... In that case, by the authority vested in me by the Automobile Fanatics of the World, I pronounce you One!

Figure 5. Humor magazine Puck makes fun of men’s attachment to their cars and salesmen’s patter about giving good deals. Gordon Grant, “The New Ritual,” Puck, 16 October 1912, 7.

Figure 6. The title of the Business Week article illustrated by this photo announced that this ancestor of the Internet was “A Machine That Sells Cars.” Business Week, 17 April 1954, 62.

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