Published: May 18, 2004
A 1937 Elgin “Robin” bicycle propelled by a drive shaft, the best one of three such examples ever made, sold for a record $20,900 at Copake Auction’s annual bicycle sale on April 17.
The bicycle had an experimental brake-in-pedal crank housing, and, of the three known examples, this is the only one in original finish. It sold to a Midwestern collector bidding on the telephone. A more conventional 1937 Elgin “Robin” that was unrestored in good original brown and cream paint was $2,750.
Once advertised by Sears, Roebuck & Co. as “The bike of the century,” a circa 1936 Elgin Bluebird cost $45.95 at the height of the depression. At Copake, the price climbed to $12,010. The bicycle was in such fresh condition that the catalog recommended that it simply be cleaned and placed in a collection.
The wheels and spokes of antique bicycles have a compelling graphic appeal and the ones here are no exception. A circa 1885 adult tricycle with imposing 48-inch rear wheels was made by Victor in Chicopee, Mass., and brought $16,500. In fine restored condition, the tricycle had a pair of matching oil lamps and the original dust shield.
A 1937 Indian in original black paint and no restoration made in Germany under license from the Springfield, Mass., company and retailed by American vendors was also $11,000.
A circa 1865 boneshaker in old finish with wooden spokes and pinstriping had a front foot rest and turned handlebars and may have had the original cover on the saddle and original grips. It sold for $5,712. Another boneshaker made in about 1868 was distinctive for its unusual wrought iron wheels in a star pattern and tapered iron spokes, a wrought iron frame with an attached rear fork, a curved and curled saddle spring and triangular wooden pedals. It brought $3,100.
There was a circa 1936 Schwinn Aero-Cycle with a snazzy Delta Gangway pancake push button horn, red B.F. Goodrich Silvertown tires and a red metal edged Troxel saddle that sold for $6,550, and a circa 1885 Gurmully & Jeffery Ideal 50-inch-high wheel made under license from Pope was $3,500.
A primo pair of 1949 restored Shelby Donald Duck bicycles with balloon tires, one a boy’s and the other a girl’s bike, each with a full Donald Duck head, realized $6,600.
It was not all bicycles; some good ephemera also crossed the block. A large (335) and comprehensive collection of bicycle pin back buttons and lapel pins that must have taken a lifetime to assemble brought $5,500, and a collection of 121 photographic bicycle postcards went for $1,650.
An appealing and colorful Nineteenth Century French poster for Hurtu showing a chic Victorian woman aboard a pneumatic safety sold for $825. The poster was printed in Paris by Charles Verneau.
All prices quoted reflect the flat 12 percent buyers’ premium.
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