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Foster-Artzberger Steam Car, Frick Art & History Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Artzberger Steam Surrey ca. 1904 Collection of William H. Artzberger, Jr. Courtesy: Frick Art & History Center, Pittsburgh, PA.

This extremely rare steam car is a product of two companies, and one city, that no longer exist. The story begins with the Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, founded in 1900 in Rochester, New York.

Around 1902, successful artist William H. Artzberger of Allegheny (now Pittsburgh's North Side) became acquainted with Foster cars while working in Rochester.

Artzberger invested heavily in Foster, with unfortunate timing—after producing 165 vehicles, the company went bankrupt in 1903.

Hoping to recoup some of his losses, Artzberger brought the remains of the business home to Allegheny. Artzberger assembled and altered the Foster vehicles—lengthening the wheelbase, among other changes—with his new firm, the Artzberger Automobile Company. He entered the "improved Fosters" in speed and distance races around the country and won several contests, often besting well-known steam vehicles like the Stanley and White.

Despite these racing victories, the Artzberger Automobile Company, like its Foster predecessor, was not destined to last.

William Artzberger ceased auto production in 1905 and resumed his career in art. One of only a handful of Foster-Artzbergers known to exist, this car was owned by collectors in Texas and Michigan before the present owner brought it home to the family and region that made it.

Text and Photo Courtesy of Frick Art & Historical Center.

These steamers, of which there were three models, operated with boiler pressure of 250 psi.  The rear axle was chain-driven and the frame was of the 'reach' type.  The manufacturer proudly claimed the 'best performance' in several endurance runs against internal combustion engines, but they also offered a short-lived gasoline car from the Rochester factory in 1903.[1]

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, Rochester, NY  February 1900, The Automobile Magazine Article,p. 22, John A. Conde Collection

The Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company presented three vehicles at the New York Automobile Show at Madison Square Garden in January 1900. Two were steam powered and one was an electric vehicle. This note appeared on page 22 of the February number of The Automobile. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, Horseless Age, October 1900, page 6

This Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company advertisement appeared in an October 1900 issue of Horseless Age on page 6

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, Rochester, NY Magazine Advertisement, January 18, 1903, Automobile Topics, Photocopy, John A. Conde Collection

This January 18, 1902 advertisement in Automobile Topics magazine is the earliest documented advertisement for The Foster Wagon. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Comp;any, Horseless Age March 26, 1902, Vol. 9, No. 13, Page iv.

This March 26, 1902 advertisement appeared in The Horseless Age, Vol. 9, No. 13, page iv.

Foster Automobile Company Magazine Advertisement, May 21, 1902

This May 21, 1902 advertisement used the term Foster Steam Wagons. The example below is also dated 1902 and another example is dated April 16, 1902.

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This 1901 trade catalogue details Foster offerings for the year. It has had a hard life, having been bound, punched, unbound, bound, and unbound. It carries a stamp: This catalogue is one received from teh Popoe Manufacturing Co. on Sept. 22, 1914 in the bound volume of the year of 1901. John A. Conde Collection.

Automobile Exhibitors At Madison Square Garden. – The following manufacturers are among those who have secured space at the Second Annual Automobile Exhibition to be held November 2 to 9, in the Madison Square Garden in New York City, under the auspices of the Automobile Club of America . . .Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, 297 State Street, Rochester, N.Y.[3]

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, Rochester, NY, 1901 Trade Catalogue, John A. Conde Collection

In this catalogue, Foster bragged about its success in the September 13, 1901 500-Mile Endurance Test between New York and Buffalo. The contest was sponsored by the Automobile Club of America, and "The Foster Steam Wagon made a glorious showing in the contest". John A. Conde Collection.

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The Story of a Blue Ribbon catalogue was donated to John A. Conde by one Hans Mueller in December 1975. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company Magazine Advertisement, March 4, 1903, Horseless Age, p. xiii

This Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company Magazine Advertisement appeared on March 4, 1903, in Horseless Age, p. xiii.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing COmpany, Rochester, NY, 1903 McClure's Magazine Advertisement, p. 56, John A. Conde Collectionf

This Foster advertisement appeared in McCLure's Magazine sometime in 1903 on page 56. During that year the firm went bankrupt and William Artzberger acquired the assets and moved operations to Allegheny, PA, now part of Pittsburgh. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster-Artzberger Steam Car Magazine Article, Floyd Clymer, p. 48

Floyd Clymer copied this page from an unidentified 1903 trade journal. It includes a note on the Foster Steam Car.

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This four-page Artzberger Automobile Company brochure has had a hard life. It has been bound, punched, rebound, and unbound. In its current iteration, it is bound with a flysheet (see below) and carries the remains of a stamp dating it to 1904. The stamp reads: This catalogue is one received from the Pope Manufacturing Co. on Sept. 22, 1914, in the bound volume of the year of 1904. It is identical to a stamp on a Edward S. Clark Steam Car brochure. John A. Conde Collection.

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Floyd Clymer copied this page from an unidentified 1903 trade journal. It includes a note on the Foster Steam Car.

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This flysheet is attached to the 1904 trade catalogue entitled It Leads The All (above). It speaks of manufacturing steam and gasoline automobiles. This machine also defeated the celebrated "Stanley" racers three times in succcession. John A. Conde Collection.

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These two images show a Foster Steam Wagon. They were taken in 1907 and 1908. The 1908 image shows James Raymond Warren, Sr. as a baby. Warren's "father built an extra seat on so he could take the family." Warren corresponded with Conde and offered to "send a little story with the pictures if you wish." No story survives in the Conde Collection. John A. Conde Collection.

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On Februayr 24, 1909, the Horseless Age reported on the final meeting of the Foster/Artsberger effort. One Delbert C. Hubbard, the trustee, reported that there was nothing to distribute to the creditors. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company, Rochester, NY.  1925 Automobile Trade Journal article, p. 33, concerning use of Foster engine to power a brazing torch

In 1925, the Automobile Trade Journal was reaching out to its members for historical information. W. J. Lildreth, of New Kensington, PA, apparenlty wrote that he was using a Foster steam engine to power his brazing torch. John A. Conde Collection.

Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company Name Plate

This Foster Automobile Manufacturing Company name plate may be a modern reproduction. If so, it follows the Company's original logo very nicely. Compare this name plate with the Company logo from its catalogue below.

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John Conde's File Folders. John A. Conde Collection.

[1]Georgano, G. N., Encyclopedia of American Automobile, (New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1968), p. 81.
[1]Kimes, Beverly Rae and Clark, Henry Austin, Standard Catalogue of American Cars, 1805 - 1942,, (Iola, WI, 3rd Edition, 1996), p. 66 (Artzberger) and p. 602 (Foster).
[3] "The Automobile," Electrical World & Engineer, (New York, NY, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 18, November 2, 1901), p. 761.

Contact us if you have additional information about the Foster Steam Wagon or the Artzberger Automobile Company, or if you have questions.

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This website took five or six hours of research and design time. Thank you for supporting the Virtual Steam Car Museum!

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