As I mentioned about a month ago in this thread Edsel Ford II was the featured speaker at the December 2011 meeting of the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society (see Autoweek article below). He asked for the members help in locating the punch bowl that has great grandfather Henry Ford I had won in 1901 in his one and only auto race, One of the members (many members are in advertising and journalism) was able to get an article about his presentation published in the New York Times, Someone in Holland saw the article and knew of the location of the Punch Bowl. According to Mr. Ford it is now in Detroit in the process of being authenticated,
By: Aaron Sigmond on 12/16/2011
“Ford has lost the Punch Bowl--and we want it back,” declared Edsel B. Ford II earlier this week in New York City.
Indeed, the Punch Bowl is a historical artifact of Ford Motor Racing (which predates Ford Motor Co. by two years), and Ford wants it to become one of the centerpieces of the “Racing in America” exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Ford II described the trophy previously as “a footnote of history that sometimes it gets away from us. Frankly, the Punch Bowl has meant a lot to me personally. I was hopeful that a few years ago we were actually on our way to finding it, but that didn't happen.”
The background: Henry Ford was broke in 1901. His first automotive venture, the Detroit Automobile Co., which made delivery trucks, went belly-up. “It was a crushing defeat for Henry Ford,” recounted his great-grandson, Ford II.
Investors, including the then-mayor of Detroit and a U.S. senator were none too excited funding another Ford folly--though onus of the failure was actually on them, as they insisted that Ford produce trucks, not cars.
Ford, his wife Clara and their seven-year-old son, Edsel, moved into his parents' house while Ford plotted his next move.
“If he wanted to start another car company, and he did, then Henry Ford needed a new source of capital and to capture the public eye. So to do that, he turned to racing,” continued Ford II.
Ford II told the tale earlier this week to a packed room at the annual holiday luncheon of the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society, held at NYC theater-district mainstay Sardi's since 1957. Ford II recalled over the course of an eloquent and fondly anecdotal talk the story of Henry Ford's first, and certainly most fortuitous motor-racing win against America's first racing superstar, Alexander Winton. It was at that race that he received the trophy, an American Brilliant cut glass punch bowl by T.G. Hawkes & Co., of Corning, N.Y., for which Ford Motor Co. has renewed its search.
On Oct. 10, 1901, the Detroit Driving Club planned to host a 25-lap race on the Grosse Pointe Blue Ribbon Horse Track. To potentially entice investors, Henry Ford and a small team headed up by Ford and Childe Harold Wills, built the famous car they named “Sweepstakes.” Ford was not looking for speed (the car's engine made only 26 hp) but reliability. It was a good decision, as things turned out.
On the day of the race, approximately 8,000 fans packed the grandstands. The 25 laps had been trimmed to 10 because events on other days had run long, and the move from endurance to sprint was not good news for Sweepstakes or Ford. The field of competitors had also shrunk to three, after mechanical issues forced others to withdraw, and then two. Ultimately, it was only Ford and Winton in the race for victory.
By lap seven, Ford began to catch up to Winton, the “fastest man in America,” and by lap eight, Winton's car began to sputter and misfire. Ford won the race, and with it, a much-needed $1,000 prize, and, of course, the Punch Bowl. Winton's team had been so sure of winning that it had convinced race organizers to choose the Punch Bowl as the trophy because it would look good in the bay window of Winton's home.
Instead, the Punch Bowl remained in the Ford household until 1951 when, after the passing of Henry's widow Clara, the bulk of the estate was sold at auction at the Parke-Bernet Galleries (later acquired by Sotheby's) in New York City. The bowl went to a client identified only as “The Garden Shop.”
“When the grandchildren [of Henry and Clara Ford] dealt with the estate, nobody realized the significance of the Punch Bowl [as the first trophy of Ford Racing],” said Ford II. “They presumed it was just a quaint old antique.”
Sold off with the bulk of the furnishings and other household goods, Ford II mused, “it's probably on a dining-room table somewhere with ornamental apples or up in someone's attic.”
However, if you own the Punch Bowl--or know who does--don't get your hopes up that a financial windfall is imminent.
“There is no reward being offered,” Ford II said