Steve Butler — February 1, 2011 at 12:01 am

Genealogy of Private Labels

BY STEVE BUTLER

The earliest of the two private label trucks is an issue made for the Seattle, Washington department store Frederick & Nelson for 1947 or 1948.
The earliest of the two private label trucks is an issue made for the Seattle, Washington department store Frederick & Nelson for 1947 or 1948.
PRESENTED HEREIN ARE a pair of private labels semis made by Smith-Miller for two department stores that were related. Before delving into that matter, it’s worthwhile to present a few facts about the source Smith-Miller trucks.

Based on company literature and a review of surviving company files, the following information about Smith-Miller trucks should be considered pretty reliable:

  1. Solid tires with no wheels and having plated steel “SM” hubcaps were last used on 1948 GMC issues.
  2. Four-spoke zinc wheels with ribbed tread tires were used on GMC’s beginning with 1949 issues.
  3. The straight-side GMC Bekins van was introduced for 1947.
  4. The drop-side GMC Bekins van was introduced for 1948.

The earliest of the two private label trucks is an issue made for the Seattle, Washington department store Frederick & Nelson for 1947 or 1948.

Structurally, this 21.7-inch truck is identical to the 1947 GMC Bekins (straight-side) semi. It has a standard die cast aluminum GMC cab and chassis. The trailer is pressed steel with a fold-down 3/4 rear door having a loop at the top and a solid panel filling the opening above. The 14-wheel rig has a landing gear with rubber tires and rides on the ribbed tires with the “S-M” hubcaps.

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