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Blue Book

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I had found some Blue Books from the teens and twentys in a used book store upstate NY about 1.5 years ago. I think the books were from the teens and twentys. They were is good shape. Covers and bindings were intact and all the pages appeared to be there. I think they were asking about $20 a book, I don't remember for sure. The books did not look new but had the normal petina of something that is about 100 years old from just sitting.

 

I knew what those books were as soon as I saw the cover from reading on AR forums and wanted to buy one justto have one but my pocket could not afford one that day. Some day I keep saying I am going to go back one day and get one. What are those books worth.

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32vid,

 

I'll claim a little expertise on the subject of Automobile Blue Books. I have over 50, and perhaps closer to 75. To get right to your question about cost, anywhere from $15 to $125. That doesn't help a lot so let me get a little more specific. As you would suppose there are at least three factors. Condition, age, and locations covered.

 

Condition is sort of obvious, but not always the main factor because buyers are often looking for content and will not put condition above a hard to find copy. Next, generally the older the better. Probably the most important factor is what area is covered. New England and New York were the most common and generally bring the lowest price, other factors equal. On the other hand an early west coast edition can fetch $100 or more.

 

You probably would have been safe paying $20 for any of them, but if they were say New York, that is what it would still be worth, unless it was very early.

 

I don't recall when the first ones came out, but say 1906. By the mid to late 1920's they were no longer needed for turn by turns because the roads were reasonably well established and well marked by then, and so they were shorter and evolved more into maps and sightseeing descriptions..

 

I have greatly enjoyed my copies. I never bought them as collectibles, but rather for their content. Over the years they have provided help in locating the old routes, and in the "then" images for then and now photos of hotels, garages, etc..

 

For the beginning collector, I suggest the early 1920's (1920-21) copies because by then the Auto Trails were well established and cited in many route descriptions,, and because they routinely included a description of the road conditions and surfaces at the beginning of each route. And they won't cost an arm and a leg. Of course earlier copies have other valuable citations, like where you could buy gasoline and supplies, which wasn't necessary advice by 1920,. I have even used them to discover a forgotten town (site) on the Yellowstone Trail.

 

That was more than you asked, but I could go on for pages.

 

Thanks for asking!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Thanks for the response and you can never give me too much info. So if you have more pages I have the time to read.

 

If I remember, it has been a while, a lot of the books were for the south west.

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Well, I would personally look at the South West myself, meaning Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Nevada. Those are more interesting because there were fewer auto trips into those areas (California excepted)and therefore fewer Blue Books for those areas were published and fewer are still around.

 

I am not ambitious enough to write a pricing guide, but early western, south western, northwestern, and transcontinental editions are generally the most valuable, again for the obvious reason that the cars were in the east and most trips weren't across the country.

 

Thanks for the interest!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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I had several blue books, along with AAA guides from 1940 or so back and even some ALA green cover books from the 20's and 30's. As Keep says the most common are the northeast - in my experience the hardest to find were for the southeast. I did find some, but it took me a while.

I've since passed my collection on to another roady whom I know will enjoy them. I also didn't buy for collectable - but to be used and used they were!!!!! :drive1: Especially around this area hunting out old U S 51 and 61 early routings. Most of my stuff was in well used condition when I got them - it didn't matter to me because as I say I bought them to use. An interesting aside was one time I bought just the map that usually goes with the book - I forget what year it was for but it had the names that were assigned in the early days - like Dixie Highway, Mississippi Valley Route and so on. It appeared to fit one of the tour books I had - I'm pretty sure it was one of the blue books.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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I am not ambitious enough to write a pricing guide, but early western, south western, northwestern, and transcontinental editions are generally the most valuable, again for the obvious reason that the cars were in the east and most trips weren't across the country.

 

Thanks for the interest!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

I thought they were only regional books. Now thanks to you I found out they had transcontinental book's.

 

Did the transcontinental books have a lot more pages or less advertising?

 

My first road trip dream has been to drive east to west on US 20. Now knowing about the Blue Books and AR forum I would have a start to find some of the original alignments when I make that trip.

 

I first heard about the Blue Books here. Though I never thought I would find any. To me the Blue Books are not collectable items as old antiques but a resource of lost knowledge.

 

I do not not see myself road exploring cross country for a few years. I am happy to do one day trips. And, maybe camping one night and driving back the next day is the limit for now. My suburban can go 489 city, 675 hwy on one tank of gas.

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(First, I am again too lazy to dig out my Blue Books so I am speaking from memory....but if anything here is important just let me know and I will do my homework to verify my recollections.)

 

Actually the transcontinental editions had neither fewer pages nor less advertising, they just had limited scope. Rather than cover a wide variety of roads, they covered only the trunk/transcontinental roads. Depending on the year, they were sometimes combined with a regional edition so you had something like "Western and Transcontinental."

 

The format of the Blue Books changed over the years. Early editions tend to be organized around tours and localities, while those done after perhaps 1913 follow routes described in sections. As I think I have inferred before, they get less and less detailed over the years, as road signage improved as well as road conditions. You could still get lost in 1925, but it was a lot harder. By the mid to late 20's roads were well established and by the late 1920's most through roads were surfaced or improved, which meant they were graded and were something other than dirt. By 1930, Oregon, for example (not a pioneer road builder) said all its main roads were improved and others were oiled. The Blue Books lost their purpose.

 

I might direct your attention to what I consider an equally useful set of guides, the Hobbs Guides. They sell for less than Blue Books and are Surface and Grade oriented, but their real value is in their descriptions of accommodations and garages. I posted a few at www.historicalroadmaps.com a few years ago before I lost interest in that little project. Most I have seen are from the late teens through the early 30's of the last century. It is sort of interesting to realize that a publication that was based on how steep the hills were had so wide a following.

 

I know the western end of US 20 quite well. Most will not realize that in the far west it was the route of some of the first transcontinental auto trip, and of some of the first transcontinental auto race.

 

Well, I ramble....

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Keep rambling. Enjoyed looking at the Historicalroadmaps.com and learning about the Hobbs Guides.

You are causing problems for me because I still do not have a Blue Book, and now I have to get a ALA and a Hobbs Guides. Not to mention replace the 1956 Esso transcontinental US Route map I had back in the 1970's.

 

I can see the interest in the Hobbs Guides back in the day with their having grade information being the early Auto's having 20 to 40 hp and two wheel or four wheel mechanical brakes making going up and down steep grades a real challange.

 

I read that the steep grades going across PA made Horatio Nelson Jackson hug Lake Erie and go through NY close to what is now US 20 and down along the Hudson River to complete his trip.

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The Horatio Nelson Jackson first ever transcontinental is a favorite story, and they followed sections of what is now US 20 in central Idaho and eastern Oregon. Before you take your US 20 trip, take a look at my stuff here.

 

http://americanroadmagazine.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=1852&hl=craters

 

It is the story of Dwight Huss and Percy Megargel in Old scout and Old Steady. You can still drive in their wheel ruts in places less than a mile off modern US20 in Idaho, and those are the same ruts followed by Jackson in that area.

 

Before you spend money on Blue Books, be aware that some are available on Google Books for free. If you have any problem finding them, I'll provide a URL.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I enjoyed the Oldsmobile race link and appreciate the offer for Blue Book links.

 

Wednesday I found some though I could not find a Trancontinental Edition on google books.

 

Thank you.

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Regarding ABB transcontinental editions; search for Google Books, go there and search Automobile Blue Books. About 5 listings down is a Western and Transcontinental 1923 edition.

 

Regarding the first transcontinetal auto race and your interest in US20: I haven't studied the route east of Idaho, but in Idaho and Oregon they followed much of what is US20. If you get interested I can help. I know if I was crossing those states on US20 I would learn beforehand the route they took so I could roll my wheels in their dirt ruts.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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The directions you gave for the BB on google was just a snippet for a transcontinental book.

 

I have been able to find complete Blue Books on ebook that are non transcontinental. 1906, 1915 vol 4, 1917 vol 2, 1919 vol 1, 1920 vol 3.

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I do my road tripping out west by google maps and google earth.

 

The site I have found best for finding the road names that still exist forUS routes that had the numbered route signs taken down is us-highways.com.

 

I like historic66.com They give turn by turn directions which allows me to follow the road on google maps.

 

lincolnhighwayassoc.org is another site I like. Have not been on it in a while. Today I found they now have a map that shows the whole original 1913 route and a 2nd and 3rd alginments.

 

 

Thanks for sharing.

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Keep rambling. Enjoyed looking at the Historicalroadmaps.com and learning about the Hobbs Guides.

You are causing problems for me because I still do not have a Blue Book, and now I have to get a ALA and a Hobbs Guides. Not to mention replace the 1956 Esso transcontinental US Route map I had back in the 1970's.

 

I can see the interest in the Hobbs Guides back in the day with their having grade information being the early Auto's having 20 to 40 hp and two wheel or four wheel mechanical brakes making going up and down steep grades a real challange.

 

I read that the steep grades going across PA made Horatio Nelson Jackson hug Lake Erie and go through NY close to what is now US 20 and down along the Hudson River to complete his trip.

 

 

Using what is now U S 20 across New York was quite common for Transcontinental drives. Hudson, in 1916 used that route coming to New York from San Francisco - and again going back to Frisco. Ditto the 1920 (or 1921) transcontinental Essex mail run with 2 cars coming east and 2 headed west.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Another great transcontinental trip book is "By Motor to the Golden Gate" - an account of a cross-country jaunt in 1915 from New York City to San Francisco. This trip, also, went across New York on what would later be U S 20, or close to it. Oh, the participants in this trip - Alice Beadleston, Edwin Post and, believe it or not, Edwins mother, Emily Post.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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