Vintage Cars in Vintage 3D: Thomas Edison’s Waverly Electric

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While researching early EVs, a few times I’ve come across this 1907 photograph of Thomas Edison driving whom I presume to be his grandson in an electric car, apparently a Pope-Waverly. Though Edison was skeptical of electric cars early on and encouraged Henry Ford, then an Edison employee, to pursue his own efforts with gasoline, later on the “Wizard of Menlo Park”, or more likely a scientist on his payroll, developed a nickel-iron storage battery that Edison thought would be ideal for EVs. Like other promising EV batteries, that proved not to be the case. Henry Ford spent about a million and a half 1914 era dollars trying to make an electric car with Edison batteries, only to give up. Still, the technology is sound and Nickel-Iron batteries are still being used for backup and storage, if not for cars. Like I said, the photograph is pretty well known so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the original was shot in 3D while browsing through the Smithsonian Museum’s collection of stereographs made by the Underwood & Underwood company. At one time Underwood & Underwood was the largest publisher of stereographs, publishing over 25,000 stereographs a day though by World War One they started to transition to being a news photographic agency and sold their inventory to the Keystone View Co.

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