NBHAA Historical Articles


By Leon Dixon

Copyright © 1985,1999, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013 by NBHAA and Leon Dixon, All rights reserved.

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Iver Johnson was one of your curator's most favorite bicycles. These unusual bicycles came in numerous designs (most were pre-balloon era), but all were made over a long period of years. Thus, we figure that some of you out there might enjoy the following...


copyright © 1985, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013 Leon Dixon, all rights reserved

This article originally was written for now-defunct CYCLIST magazine and appeared in the March, 1985 issue of that publication. It was intended to be a personal and nostalgic account of the Iver Johnson Model 90. Aside from a previous mention in CLASSIC BICYCLE & WHIZZER NEWS (also written by Dixon in 1979), the only factual treatise on Iver Johnson bicycle history published up until this time.

All photos in the Cyclist magazine Concours 'd Elegance series for articles that were written by Leon Dixon were taken by our good friend and noted photographer, Steve Essig (there were subsequent brand-X articles that followed and used our title, but these were neither written by us nor did we supply info for them). Although photo copyrights originally were listed in the magazine as Steve's they in fact are assigned to Leon Dixon as per agreement with Steve Essig. No part of this article or the original article may be sold, printed out, photocopied or reproduced by any means or excerpted without written permission of the author.


These are the original photos and words used in the 1985 article. This particular Iver J belongs to the author. Although it is pictured with non-original tires (we are working on the correct ones–see the specs listed), there are otherwise absolutely no restored or reproduction parts on this bicycle and all chrome is original. No polishing was done to the frame and it retains its original luster.

Finally we have some questions after all these years. As a note of clarification, the paint on this frame head is more like what would be termed a Model 95D. However that model also had a chainguard, different saddle, different handlebars and fenders. But when this bicycle was first obtained several decades ago, we questioned an old original Iver Johnson dealer since our understanding based on Iver catalogues indicated a Model 90 should have a bright plated head. However, the dealer strongly insisted that in the early 1940s he received SOME Model 90s with painted heads like this one.

Two issues come up here:

1.) Iver Johnson was notorious for re-using old artwork and often showed older graphics or features on newer bicycles. There were also outright errors in some catalogues. We pointed out at least one catalogue in this instance where a bicycle is printed in bright red, yet that very catalogue states that red was not available on the very model shown.

2.) Toward the late years of Iver Johnson, there were seasonal promotional models that seemed to violate images and features shown in catalogues.

In any event, at the time we were told that this bicycle was legitimate as a Model 90. But would this be the norm for Model 90s? We would suggest that it is more an exception than rule. But we would also say not to be surprised to find Model 90s from this period with bright plated heads.

YES, that is the way the Iver Johnson headbadge SHOULD look, dulled with lampblack (this one has not been touched in any way since it left the factory). Most restorers and collectors ruin their I-J headbadges by polishing the daylights out of them. WRONG. We also own numerous other Iver Johnson bicycles and parts, including a nice original boy’s AND girl's tank models. More on this in our upcoming book on classic bicycles.

Thank you for visiting the NBHAA Historical articles! This section will change as time goes on, but will continuously feature rare glimpses at bicycle history, memorabilia and facts you won't find anywhere else. We will eventually be posting the entire series of CYCLIST magazine articles that were written by your curator in the 1980s. We hope you enjoy the photos and information. And stay tuned !


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This page, all design and contents, all photos unless otherwise noted are Copyright © 1985. 1999, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013 by Leon Dixon/NBHAA, All rights reserved.
Date of last update to this page: 20 MARCH 2013

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