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Cover image of Horse Trading in the Age of Cars
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Horse Trading in the Age of Cars

Men in the Marketplace

Steven M. Gelber

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The trading, selling, and buying of personal transport has changed little over the past one hundred years. Whether horse trading in the early twentieth century or car buying today, haggling over prices has been the common practice of buyers and sellers alike. Horse Trading in the Age of Cars offers a fascinating study of the process of buying an automobile in a historical and gendered context.

Steven M. Gelber convincingly demonstrates that the combative and frequently dishonest culture of the showroom floor is a historical artifact whose origins lie in the history of horse trading. Bartering…

The trading, selling, and buying of personal transport has changed little over the past one hundred years. Whether horse trading in the early twentieth century or car buying today, haggling over prices has been the common practice of buyers and sellers alike. Horse Trading in the Age of Cars offers a fascinating study of the process of buying an automobile in a historical and gendered context.

Steven M. Gelber convincingly demonstrates that the combative and frequently dishonest culture of the showroom floor is a historical artifact whose origins lie in the history of horse trading. Bartering and bargaining were the norm in this predominantly male transaction, with both buyers and sellers staking their reputations and pride on their ability to negotiate the better deal. Gelber comments on this point-of-sale behavior and what it reveals about American men.

Gelber's highly readable and lively prose makes clear how this unique economic ritual survived into the industrial twentieth century, in the process adding a colorful and interesting chapter to the history of the automobile.

Reviews

Reviews

Gelber offers vivid portraits of several automotive flim-flam artists, and he captures the antics of dealers like Earl 'Madman' Muntz, who revolutionized auto sales in the 1940s and early '50s by creating a sales-crazed character for his advertising.

Whatever cultural and economic factors keep horse trading alive in the age of cars and the internet, this carefully researched and well-written study is our best guide to the history of this paradoxical situation.

Gelber's work is... praiseworthy because it avoids the kind of temporal parochialism that characterizes so many contemporary monographs, covering the entire automobile age.

Horse Trading in the Age of Cars is an original work that accomplishes something admirable.

Combines a sophisticated history of horse trading and car dealing with a critical analysis of the way both worked... it functions both as an entertaining history and a buyers’ guide, divulging trade secrets that will benefit today’s consumers even as it recounts a colorful past... A sterling example of the ways in which culture and the human actors enmeshed in that culture shape economic practice.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9780801889974
Illustration Description
7 halftones
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: The Cowboy and the Flapper
1. Horse Trading: During the Buyer
Horses as Masculine Symbols
The Manly Art of Horse Trading
The Reputation of Horse Traders
The Horse Trading Business
Horse

Preface
Introduction: The Cowboy and the Flapper
1. Horse Trading: During the Buyer
Horses as Masculine Symbols
The Manly Art of Horse Trading
The Reputation of Horse Traders
The Horse Trading Business
Horse Trading as a Game
The Rules of the Game
Hiding Faults
Warranties
2. Retailing: Satisfying the Buyer
Manufactured Transportation: Carriages and Bicycles
Negotiated (Discriminatory) Prices
Single (Democratic) Prices
Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Cheerfully Refunded
3. Cars: Joining the New Marketplace
Coachmen to Chauffeurs: The Male Lineage
Cars in Stores
One Posted Price to All
One-Price by Law
Advertising List Prices
4. Used Cars: Undermining the New Marketplace
Origins
Trade-In Allowances and Over-Allowances
Controlling Over-Allowances
Cheating: "Buyers Are Liars"—And So Are Sellers
5. The Triumph of the Price Pack: Selling the Deal
Price Padding with the Pack
After-Sales Packing
The 1950s: "... for Thieves to Sell to Mental Defectives"
Advertising and Blitz Marketing
Posting a Price
The Great Warranty War
6. Bad Guys
The Car Seller's Career: Nasty, Brutish, and Short
The Sales Game: Tactics
The Sales Game: Strategy
Car Dealers' Reputation and Character
7. Bargaining and Gender
"The Great American Sport of Bargaining"
Brokers
Cars and Masculinity
Women as Buyers and Sellers
Epilogue: Still Horse Trading in the Internet Age
The Dealer's Cost
Make Me an Offer!
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Steven M. Gelber

Steven M. Gelber is a professor of history at Santa Clara University and author of Hobbies: Productive Leisure and the Culture of Work in America.
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