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NBHAA GUIDE TO CORRECTING THE CLASSICS
(NBHAA GTCC) !!
CORRECTIONS TO SOTHEBY'S 2ND BICYCLE AUCTION CATALOGUE (Sale Number 7512)
Held September 16, 2000 in Chicago, Illinois FOLLOW...
copyright © Leon Dixon/NBHAA 1999, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2013. All rights reserved. CAUTION! WE ARE WATCHING, SO WATCH YOUR CREDIT LINE! THESE CORRECTIONS ARE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. If you use them without getting permission first, you are violating federal copyright laws. No part of these corrections may be republished, excerpted, referred to in print, used in any way unless written permission from the author has been provided and acknowledgments are made.
Pretty auction catalogues are always nice. But they are usually just pretty catalogues when it comes to classic bicycles. Sotheby's people are very nice and, again, did such a beautiful catalogue, but there are some very serious errors in the information...as follows.
Page 19, Item/lot 27: The item shown is a 1938 Silver King by Monark, not 1937, and NOT simply a "Monark" as indicated. Monarks had STEEL frames. Silver Kings had aluminum frames.
Page 19, Item/lot 28: The item shown is claimed to be a "circa 1940 Cadillac bicycle" when in fact it is 1941. Caption resorts to talking about "classic lines of a cruiser" but fails to point out significant facts like first year of the chainguard design.
Page 20, Item/lot 30: The item shown is labeled "1950s" but could very well be late 1940s. Since whomever wrote the captions was obviously guessing, it would have been better to list the item as such. Furthermore, the decal on the chainguard obviously indicates that this Cycle-Truck was in fact a B.F. Goodrich brand, not merely a "Schwinn" as captioned. There WERE slight differences in the two and one should not be called the name of the other.
Page 20, Item/lot 31: The bicycle shown is claimed to have been "designed by Brook Stevens". The designer's actual name was BROOKS Stevens. This is the umpteenth time that poor Brooks has had his name morphed. The Brunswick web site ( now taken down) in describing the name of the designer in reference to their disastrous reproduction Roadmaster "Luxury Liner" called him "Brooke" (guys- that's the actress who dated Michael Jackson!). This should have been easy stuff since Mr. Stevens was a great car designer whom we knew from the automotive world. But in the bicycle world, his name has, sadly, suffered a lot of abuse. ANYWAY... as shown, this bicycle has some very curious equipment. It has a senior model(Luxury Liner) headlight... but a lesser model frame. It has a front fork from a senior middleweight- but somehow this is installed on a balloon tire bicycle! Then there is the odd front sprocket chainwheel that appears to be off of a Ross bicycle. Of course, the double-bent upper bar frame did not go with a Shockmaster spring fork unless there was a tank- which is curiously missing. Sotheby's then goes WAY out on a limb and actually states, "excepting the saddle, all parts are completely original." MORE about their term "COMPLETELY ORIGINAL" later.
Page 20, Item/lot 32: The Hawthorne shown somehow has ended up with prewar GIRL's white grips from some other brand.
Page 21, Item/lot 33: The item is described as a "1946 J.C. Higgins", but the bicycle is quite obviously a 1948-1/2 model (and don't look for it in the store catalogues- you may not find it). Yes, we have the original literature on this model, including owner's manuals.
Page 24, Item/lot 40: The year claimed MAY be correct, but the saddle shown is not.
Page 35, Item/lot 57: The item is described as "1898" and tires are claimed to be "more than 100-year-old"...at the very least, the tires are much newer newer... and the date of the bicycle is questionable.
Page 35, Item/lot 59: The information seems to be liberally based on information that we first wrote, published years earlier. While much hoopla is made about "African-American bicycle racer Major Taylor" (Sotheby's words) there is no connection between Taylor and this bicycle which obviously was made years after he was dead and buried in an unmarked pauper's grave! Important info on this bicycle is not mentioned. Why?
Page 37, Item/lot 64: The item is described as a "Pierce Arrow", but the bicycles were only known as "Pierce", (with the exceptions of some latter bogus models from the 1960s and 1970s- mostly imports) not Pierce-Arrow (which was the automobile). The bicycle insignias did show an arrow symbol going though the name "Pierce"...but they never said, "Arrow"...nor did the literature...nor did the decals. You can argue this point down into the ground (and some people already have) but the company that made the bicycles was THE PIERCE CYCLE COMPANY... and their bicycles were simply branded "PIERCE"... period. READ the original literature. We just report the facts- we don't make them. The item may also be newer than described. You can now click and READ the story on NBHAA elsewhere in GTCC regarding the Pierce Cycle/Pierce-Arrow controversy posted NOW!
Page 40, Item/lot 67: The item is described as "Evinrude Streamflow Deluxe" (where did they get this name?) when in fact it is clearly an Evinrude IMPERIAL. See our comments about so-called "breaking forks" and our early writings about "World War II scrap drives"and keep them in mind when you see them repeated here without attribution.
Page 41, Item/lot: 68: The item is described as being "Elgin 1935 Skylark" but what is shown is a 1936 model (by the way, how come there aren't any Skylarks shown in the 1935 catalogue???). And the claim that "...1935 Elgin Skylark is the only model to feature the Stewart-Warner speedometer mounted on the handlebar stem/console. This arrangement proved too costly and by 1936 the speedometer was omitted..." This is fantasy-no matter who says it. The speedo was not eliminated until 1936-1/2 and even then, it could be ordered extra for an additional fee. But it was discouraged simply because it was so heavy and the frame so poorly engineered that it set up a pendulum effect on the flimsy front of the frame. This condition actually caused the frame to WOBBLE (even break) if a good-sized teen rode it! Furthermore, the original colors were not "maroon and brown"... they simply faded that way.
Page 42, Item/lot 69: In a stretch of believability, or perhaps marketing, there is a claim in the description that somehow this bicycle is imitating an Excelsior motorcycle (you can always tell when a novice to these bicycles is writing about them when they refer to toolboxes or horn tanks as "faux gas tanks"). The only thing about this bicycle that is DIRECTLY attributable to motorcycles is not to Excelsior motorcycle, but to Cleveland motorcycles (the spring fork... and some would say English Triumph). The item is described as "1936 Motorbike". Yet it has a spring fork from later years, frame from later years, chainguard design that did not exist in 1936, saddle that was not used on this model in 1936, a New Departure Triple Speed hub from the 1950s (they call it "period). So what makes this bicycle 1936? Oh, and why is the headlight pointed up at the moon? This stuff ought to be easy... especially with the huge amount of Schwinn information floating around. So? Why couldn't Sotheby's get it right on such an easy one with all of the Schwinn "experts" in Chicago on the payroll there helping them? We didn't get paid and didn't get recognition, but we could see this very obvious error!
Pages 42-43, Item/lot 70: The item is described as a "mudge guard brace"... what's that??
Page 42-43, Item/lot 71: The item is described as a "having been influenced by Henderson and Excelsior motorcycles. The writer was reaching again. And the claim that the tires mounted are "original" is just dead wrong. The tires LOOK nice... but they aren't originals... aren't even the right brand! And the steerhorn handlebars were not from 1933. Even the bicycle itself may be newer since this model was made and sold for many years, not just 1933.
Page 45, Item/lot 73: The item is described as a 1949 Indian. Actually this version came out in late 1948 but we can live with the first part of the description. But then the description goes on to make it sound as if Indian was somehow responsible for the design. This is simply not true since this Indian was simply "badge engineered" on an existing Dayton bicycle of that year. Visually, it was little different from a stock Dayton. Furthermore, Sotheby's claims this is the only complete one left (not true), implies there was only one model (also not true) and implies that they were all only painted black (again, not true). These bicycles came in MANY different sizes, designs, models and colors for this period. Not one.And YES, we DO have the original literature for these bicycles.
Page 46, Item/lot 74: The item is described as being "1938 deluxe" with peaked fenders and rear stand. Possible, but not likely. Also, grips are from the mid-1960s Sears Spaceliner and tail light is not original.(MORE CORRECTION TBE)
Page 46-47, Item/lot 76: Well? They made a bunch of errors in the 1999 (see our GTCC Sotheby's #1) auction in things said about Bowden bicycles. But instead of correcting it all, they chose to repeat it all! The item is described as.... The information regarding the "Designs for the Future" show is bogus and has appeared in a hardbound book (another example of what happens when errors are published- they become facts for subsequent erroneous books and auction catalogues!!). The original exhibition in question was actually entitled, "Britain Can Make It" and was done in 1946. The "Designs for the Future" show was a retrospective even done in the 1990s in Britain. Two completely different shows in two completely different decades. Surely Sotheby's people can tell the difference between something that happened in the 1940s and the 1990s? Finally...there was no "outer skin" as described since there were no tubes inside to be encased. The frame is in fact a load-bearing monocoque structure, not a "case." The information and number of 522 was lifted directly from this writer's original newsletter story of the early 1980s and the "Cyclist" magazine article we wrote (which you can view on this NBHAA site in the "historical articles section). People... WHY do you keep repeating OUR information and refuse to credit the source???
Page 48-49, Item/lot 82: The item is described as "1950s", but it is actually no earlier than the 1960s, obviously since the "Scat-Car" line did not debut until about 1960. AND if this is the 150,00ths made as stated, it would have to be wayyyyyyy down the line from 1960, no? Please. This one is flambouyant red, but all Scat-Cars for most of the 1960s were opaque red. Kinda makes any claim for this being "from the 1950s" a stretch.
Page 54-55, Item/lot 89: (CORRECTION TBE)
Page 54-55, Item/lot 90 (CORRECTION TBE)
Page 56, Item/lot 93: The item is described as "1950 MONARK SUPER Twin COMPLETELY ORIGINAL"... WOW. However, it is obviously NOT COMPLETELY ORIGINAL since it very obviously has a WHIZZER twist-grip control on the right hand location on the handlebars! A very obvious contradiction, people. Monark Super-Twins had their very own built-in twist-grip controls and they never used Whizzer twist-grips. It also appears that the headlight and saddle have been changed from original. ORIGINAL MEANS ORIGINAL. ALL ORIGINAL MEANS ALL ORIGINAL. COMPLETELY ORIGINAL MEANS COMPLETELY ORIGINAL. You don't put Ford parts on a Chevy and call it, "COMPLETELY ORIGINAL"! Why make such extreme claims, Sotheby's?
NOTE: It appears that Sotheby's got out of auctioning bicycles after a few brave tries. The one mistake they made- along with so many others- is that they thought expertise in classic bicycles is merely by self-proclamation. It obviously isn't. In Sotheby's defense, MOST bicycle auction listings- especially classic bicycle era are usually in error. Many are just plain laughable. But to have such a nice and expensive catalogue but such terrible errors and overstatements is sad.
Happy Correcting and Collecting. Keep checking back for more.
Guide To Correcting The Classics will return in "Evolutions of the Bicycle" - NOW ONLINE IN GTCC!
We can identify almost any bicycle manufactured in North America between 1920 and 1970. We can also assist with bicycles made prior to this AND after this time. However, our era of specialty is between these dates. Also, since we primarily focus on American-made bicycles our involvement with non-domestic bicycles is limited. In some cases such as Raleigh and certain other imported makes, we do have a good amount of archival material. In other cases, we can advise you where to get information.
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Date of last update to this page: 29 MARCH 2013
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