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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
You make up your mind as there are a few stories on where it came from. Almost as mysterious as

Chevrolet Bowtie History

The Chevrolet Bowtie has been one of the World’s most recognized trademarks since 1913, when William C. Durant first introduced the symbol that represents Chevrolet’s
winning success!

We have all heard the legend how Durant copied the bowtie design from the wallpaper in a Paris Hotel. The 50 Year Anniversary issue of The Chevrolet Story, printed in 1961, and reprinted in part in the October 1986 G&D, told the story this way:
“This was also the year (1913) that the famous Chevrolet trademark was first used on the cars. The distinctive trademark has appeared billions of times on products, advertisings and sales literature as the mark of dependability, economy and quality in motor transportation. It originated

in Durant’s imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends
with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”


Margery Durant in her book. My Father, wrote in 1929 her version of how her father designed the Chevrolet Bowtie: “As in the case of the Buick, my father drew name-plates on pieces of
paper at the dinner table. I think it was between the soup and the fried
chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the
Chevrolet car to this day.”

A story in Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine, October 1986, which was copied in the May 1987 G&D, told that W.C. Durant did not copy the design from the wallpaper in a French hotel room, and that according to Mrs. Durant, the bowtie emblem was first seen by her husband in an illustrated Virginia newspaper, while they were vacationing in Hot Springs, Virginia around 1912. Mrs. Durant was quoted as recalling, “We were in a suite reading the papers, and he saw this design and said, ‘I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet’ ” She did not explain how the newspaper used the emblem.
The 75 th Anniversary issue of The Chevrolet Story, 1986, gave both bowtie story versions with the comment that Billy Durant, himself, confirmed the Paris hotel story, which was later refuted by his wife with the Sunday newspaper in Virginia story. Chevrolet Media Productions then wrapped things up by writting: “Whatever the source,the Bowtie proved to be a recognizable winner, and is still the marque of today’s Chevrolet.”
The source of Mrs. Durant’s account is Lawrence R Gustin, who interviewed Catherine Durant for his book, Billy Durant. Creator of General Motors, 1973, and recorded her story of the bowtie in this book. Ever since I read Catherine’s logical explaination 17 years ago, I have been on the lookout for the true source of the bowtie.


This past year I have been reading that great Southern newspaper, The Constitution, from Atlanta Georgia, looking for how the Whiting, Little, Chevrolet, Monroe, and Scripps-Booth were actually marketed in this southern hub city between 1910 and 1917, when I ‘spotted’ this Coalettes bowtie ad, I think I experienced the same excitement Durant did almost eighty years ago, when he might have ‘spotted’ the same ad in the same paper. The date of this Constihrtion ad was November 12, 1911 -nine days after the Chevrolet Motor Company was incorporated.

Notice some of the similarities between the Coalettes and Durant designed Chevrolet Bowtie! Both started with a ‘C’, had nine letters, had the suffix ‘let’, and were hard to pronounce-in a French way. Both emblems had a dark background with white boarders and white letters. The main difference was the Coalettes letters were slanted and used a stylistic type face, while Durant used a more formal Roman type face and squared off the center bow, three letters wide. It looks like the reason the Southern Compressed Coal Co. designed the bowtie logo in the first place was to highlight the large, middle ‘E’, to help the public pro- nounce this coined word easier. Maybe, this is where Durant got the idea, “Pronounced Shev-Ro-Lay. ” I looked up the suffix ‘---let’ or ‘-lette’ in the dictionary and was surprised to find it means little or small. Therefore, the coined word Coalettes means “Little Coals.” I would think the Southern Compressed Coal Co. had the Coalettes name and bowtie emblem registered as a trademark and will look through the trademark registrations at the Patent Office in the future. This is really a great ad! I bet Durant tore it out of the newspaper to save for future reference. Note how this ad copy stressed performance, economics, neighborhood availability and “positively leaves no clinkers.” Coalettes seemed to have many good features-I wonder if it ever became successful?

One more closing observation-this Coalettes ad used a round circle with the slogan, “The Little Coals with the big heat.” Durant’s Little Motor Car Company also used a round nameplate emblem with the name LITTLE inside with a “heated red” background- just a coincidence?

Here is the earliest Chevrolet Bowtie ad I have found in a newspaper. This “Look for this Nameplate” ad was found in the Washington Post for the October 2, 1913. The printing is not the greatest, but I think it is interesting because the bowtie appears to be drawn by hand, the ‘CH’ did not print well, and the Chevrolet name was printed in a not correct slanted type. However, this crude layout should encourage other members to research and locate better ads.

204 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
From automotive tech school i always knew of the wallpaper story..not the other ones.
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