By Richard Quinn

For over 25 years this writer edited a column in the Studebaker Drivers Club publication Turning Wheels called “The Studebaker Almanac.” The name of that column was borrowed from a publication circulated to owners by Studebaker between 1900 and 1919. The story below represents a history of this interesting little publication. It was written for “The Almanac” column and appeared in the Oct. 1985 issue of Turning Wheels.

             For over 200 years in the history of this country, the almanac was the second most popular form of reading material, trailing only the Bible in popularity.  Anyone with third grade education is familiar with Ben Franklin’s version of this once popular source of information and entertainment called Poor Richard’s Almanac.  Franklin’s premier issue of 1733 was not the first Almanac, since Almanacs had been printed in England as early as the 14th century.  The first American version was believed to have originated as early as 1667.  The popularity and longevity of Franklin’s publication was probably due, in part, to his quaint proverbs and homespun humor.

             The Almanacs were originally intended to provide the reader with information on the calendar, the time of the rising and setting sun, moon and stars, the movement of planets, eclipses, etc.  This information was of particular value to farmers whose planting and harvesting were determined, in part, by this information, and also to early mariners who relied upon it for navigation.  Later other information was added, including dates of various religious feasts and holidays, weather forecasts and signs of the zodiac.  Eventually publishers, hoping to stimulate circulation (no pun intended) expanded the format to include information on medicine, history and government, recipes, legal questions, shipping schedules, tides and a variety of other useful data.  Today the most widely circulated examples, the Reader’s Digest and New York Times Almanacs, have over 1,000 pages and bear little resemblance to their predecessors.

             Beginning in the 1800’s, businesses began to recognize the advertising potential of the almanac.  While newspapers and magazines were routinely read and discarded, the Almanac was kept handy for a full calendar year (and commonly longer).  This meant the advertiser’s product line would be in front of the potential consumer for at least 365 days.  Your editor has yet to discover the business which was first to capitalize on the Almanac for advertising purposes, however the practice was fairly widespread by the mid 19th century.

             Since Studebaker’s principal customer was the American farmer, the almanac would be a particularly appropriate form of advertising.  Accordingly, in the year 1900, they issued their first Farmer’s Almanac.  Some early Studebaker publications imply that there was an Almanac produced for the company prior to 1900, perhaps as early as the 1870’s.  One of these sources is a 100 page hard cover book from 1917 entitled, “139 Ways to Help Sell More Studebaker Wagons, Buggies, Harnesses.”  It states:

             The Studebaker almanac has been a great favorite for forty years – and justifiably so.  It has more of interest to the farmer than any other single piece of printed matter he could receive.  He wants it enough to ask for it – and keeps it.

            There’s a good reason.  The Studebaker almanac not only has all the information in it you expect to find in a good almanac, but it also is full of short to-the-point articles of vital interest to the farmers and a host of information on every subject connected with agriculture or stock-raising.

             It is a reference book which remains in daily use.  No other piece of printed matter is more carefully preserved throughout the year.  Because of the merit of its contents, it has earned a fine reputation, which lends a special value to it as a means of keeping your name and the advantages of the Studebaker line constantly before every possible buyer.

            We will send you as many of these as you can use to good advantage.  They will cost you nothing but the transportation.

             You can’t afford to overlook this big help toward increasing your business.  Keep your list of possible customers up to date and see that every man of them gets a copy of the almanac every year.

 This description encapsulates quite well the use and function of the almanac as well as its importance as an advertising tool for the local dealer. There is no evidence however to support the claim that its run had been 40 years.

 Another Studebaker source from 1918 however appears to be more accurate insofar as the inception date. It reads as follows:

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -


To Our Readers


The Studebaker Almanac has been published each year since 1900.

It contains authentic information, condensed into terse paragraphs gathered

under general heads, alphabetically arranged for quick reference.

All phases of farm life are covered and its pages will be of interest to you

as well as to hundreds of thousands of other readers.

Each year we strive to make it better.  You may have some criticism to

make of the 1918 book or some suggestion that will make the 1919 edition

more valuable.  Your comments will be appreciated.

                                                                                 STUDEBAKER, South Bend, Ind.

             Nineteen-nineteen was the last year for the Studebaker Almanac to be published. Not surprisingly perhaps this date also closely coincides with the last years of Studebaker horse drawn production, (i.e., carriages, buggies ceased in 1919; wagons in 1920).

             Each of the twenty issues (1900-1919) was 48 pages plus covers.  Your editor has in his files all except the premier issue of 1900 (if anyone has one or even a photo I would be very interested in receiving it).  In format the Almanacs measured slightly larger than 5 x 8½ until 1916, when they were reduced in size to 5 x 8.”  Studebaker was not consistent with the names and, in fact used six different during its 20 year run.


                        1901-02           Studebaker Farmers’ (sic) Almanac

                        1903-12           Studebaker Farmer’s Almanac and Weather Forecast

                        1913                Ye Studebaker Almanac

                        1914-16           The Studebaker Almanac

                        1917                Studebaker Farmer’s Almanac and Weather Forecast

                        1918                Studebaker Almanac

                        1919                The Studebaker Almanac

                         Full color covers were used only on issues of 1910-1911-1912-1917 and 1918.


            Each issue contained about 14 pages of Studebaker advertising, focusing particularly on farm wagons, but also covering the wide range of Studebaker offerings (including a corn sheller!).  Studebaker history was often interspersed with important dates from U.S. and World history, and special features on automobile and wagon care were common.  While most of the prose found in its pages was unmemorable two are worthy of some note.  In the 1913 issue, Clement Studebaker Jr., in his article “How to Pick a Motor Car” writes, Horses will continue to do the world’s work to an increasing degree as far as we can see into the future.  In the 1912 issue, Walter Flanders, then Vice President and General Manager of the Automobile Dept., wrote in “The Farmer’s Automobile” the following, The automobile has not and never will take the place of a horse.  The subsequent discontinuance of horse drawn production by 1920 would lead us to conclude that Messrs. Studebaker and Flanders underestimated the potential of the automobile.

             Studebaker Almanacs were sent free to all its dealers for distribution to loyal customers and live prospects.  They were also available to anyone mailing a 2¢ stamp to the corporation to help defray the cost of postage.  Space was reserved on the covers for dealers to place their names.  Most apparently used rubber stamps for this, but some had their names printed on during the printing process.  This was no doubt offered to dealers for a slight additional fee.

Included on this web page are covers of all issues 1901 thru 1919. These are from the author’s personal collection and were accumulated over a 15-year span. Questions or comments are welcome.

Farmers Almanac 1901-1905
1901                                1902                               1903                               1904                              1905

Farmers Almanac 1906-1910
1906                                1907                               1908                               1909                              1910

Farmers Almanac 1911-1915
1911                                1912                               1913                               1914                              1915

Farmers Almanac 1916-1919
1916                               1917                                                                         1918                                                                       1919