Oral history interviews on Z. Taylor Vinson

About this collection

    For over sixty years, Zachary Taylor Vinson (1933-2009) amassed a large and comprehensive collection of printed material documenting on the history transportation, particularly automobiles.
    The Oral history interviews on Z. Taylor Vinson (Accession 2013.265) collection is the result of an oral history project initiated to provide supplementary material for Hagley’s 2015 exhibit, 'Driving Desire', which features items from the Z. Taylor Vinson collection of transportation ephemera (Accession 20100108.ZTV) and Taylor Vinson collection of transportation lithographs (Accession 2010.203). The three interviewees, Rick Shnitzler, Fred Simeone, and Yann Saunders, all were personal acquaintances of Z. Taylor Vinson as well as highly involved in either collecting or dealing auto ephemera and/or automobiles.
    For more information, see 'Collecting Paper Cars: Z. Taylor Vinson's Collection of Automobile Ephemera', a digital exhibit developed as part of the 'Driving Desire' exhibit .
    Image: Ford Thunderbird Catalog, 1955. Click here to view in the digital exhibit.

Search Collection

Interview with Rick Shnitzler, 2013 November 7
In the interview, Shnitzler discusses his early dealing career and his initial interest in classic cars. He recalls his first classic car and how he began acquiring and selling auto ephemera. Shnitzler outlines the differences between auto ephemera collectors and dealers, and explains how the dealing business works. As a part of this discussion, Shnitzler explains how he would find ephemera and introduce it into the collector's and classic car restorer's market. Shnitzler recalls how he met Z. Taylor Vinson and describes what he was like as a person and speculates the reasons that motivated Vinson to amass the large collection that he donated to Hagley. Shnitzler describes the process by which auto literature was produced and then used to advertise and sell cars. He also describes how collectors and dealers create a monetary value for the objects, noting that cash is a poor measure to value auto ephemera. Shnitzler describes the technological innovations that have transformed the car and advertising techniques. He also discusses the changes in communications technology have brought to auto ephemera collecting and dealing.
Interview with Yann Saunders, 2014 April 25
In the interview, Saunders discusses his early collecting career and interest in Cadillacs and how he began collecting Cadillac auto ephemera. He outlines the following methods by which he collected literature: personal connections, auto shows, and written correspondence. Saunders describes his friendship with Vinson and describes Z. Taylor Vinson as a person and a collector. He also describes Vinson's "Autotorium," which Saunders had the opportunity to visit several times. Saunders speaks about his online site, the Cadillac Database, and explains how and why he decided to create it. He also explains how auto ephemera collectors and dealers assign value to auto literature and recalls how he sold his entire collection. Saunders discusses how advertisers and manufacturers produced and used auto literature to sell cars and the changes that have occurred in auto advertising. Saunders also discusses how changes in communications technology have made collecting more efficient and made sharing information easier, but have also brought some negative changes as well.
Interview with Fred Simeone, 2014 December 3
In the interview, Simeone discusses his early collecting career and interest in cars and how his collecting practices evolved. He details the methods by which pre-internet collectors acquired auto literature and the changes that the internet and evolved communications technologies brought. Simeone talks about Z. Taylor Vinson as a person, a friend, and as a fellow collector. Simeone also provides information about how the sales literature was produced and the role it played in selling automobiles. Simeone describes how collectors and dealers place value upon auto ephemera. He also discusses collecting as a lifelong pursuit that, for him, tells the story of the technological innovation of the automobile and its impact on modern society.