Collings Carriage Co. - 1880s -1920s Camden, New Jersey


Collings is better known as the building that housed the first home of the Victor Talking Machine Co. - later RCA-Victor - but Collings also made some early wooden and composite automobile bodies as well.

Collings built a new building at the corner of Front St. and Federal St. in 1915 that was designed by the famous Philadelphia architect Joshua C. Jeffries.

William Sparks


About 1894 Eldridge R. Johnson was opening a small machine shop in the rear of Collings Carriage Factory on Front Street above Market. In addition to his skill as an expert machinist, he also manifested a genius for invention. After studying the weaknesses of the then commonly used wire-stitching machines for book-binding, he devised and built a new machine which was quickly recognized as the best wire stitcher on the market. Mr. Johnson sold his patents in this machine and turned his attention to that business of which he made a wonderful success- the making and marketing of “talking machines”.

The first building to be used in the manufacture of the new device for the reproduction of the human voice was built in the spring of 1899 on Front Street. The business increased so rapidly that it was incorporated on October 5, 1901, as the Victor Talking Machine Company; and the little fox terrier listening to “His Master’s Voice’ has since become known in every household, and Victor record are now “heard round the world”.

From the time of the erection of the first building in 1899, the program of expansion of this company has gone forward to the extent that in 1928 there were 34 fireproof buildings with a floor space of approximately 57 acres. The average number of employees in the Camden plants numbers in normal times 8500, more than the population of many cities in the United States. Thus form a small beginning in the 1890s, and within a period of less than 35 years Mr. Johnson built up in Camden one of the largest industries of the country.

Early in January of 1927 Mr. Johnson sold his controlling interest in the Victor Talking Machine Company to a syndicate organized by Speyer & Company and J. & W. Seligman, New York bankers. At the time of the sale it was reported that Mr. Johnson received in round figures $28,000,000 dollars for his more than 240,000 shares of Victor Company stock



For more information please read:

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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