Thursday, April 04, 2013


Original paint 1911 Pierce 4 to be auctioned
A massive private collection of bicycles from the Pedaling Through History museum in Buffalo, NY, is being liquidated following the death of founder Carl Burgwardt two years ago.  His was the largest bicycle museum in the world, and included a few motorcycles.  The auction on April 19th, the second of three big auctions selling off the bicycles and related parts and ephemera, has over 600 lots of interesting stuff, quite a bit of it related to early motorcycling.
Pierce racing bicycle poster ca.1902 showing the current American champion, Frank Kramer
Star of the show will be a 1911 Pierce 4-cylinder motorcycle in original paint, running condition, which has only seen its tires and handlegrips replaced.  I've seen this bike in person, and its simply fantastic, and in the same condition as the original-paint Pierce 4 which won the Concorso di Villa d'Este two years ago.  Like most early motorcycle makers, Pierce built shaft-drive (and chain-drive) bicycles before building motorcycles of single and four-cylinders, which were distinctive (and well ahead of their time) in using large-diameter frame tubing as fuel and oil tanks, making both a stronger frame and fewer parts to build, repair, or keep from vibrating to bits on the unpaved roads of the early 1900s.  Pierce was 'inspired' by the FN four-cylinder design, and these first American 'fours' (débuted in 1909) have moved slowly into mainstream consciousness as a very important part of Motorcycling history.
1880 Pneumatic Star bicycle produced by the HG Smith Machine Co, Smithville NJ

Check out the Copake Auction website here.

The 1911 Pierce 4 motor and pedaling gear; note shaft drive and flywheel (with clutch, with lever for a two-speed gearbox above)
A remarkable 1898 Cygnet 'Swan' ladies' bicycle built by the Stoddard Mfg Co of Dayton, OH


Kai Vallon said...

The Swan bicycle is so fascinating, are there spokes supporting the rear hoop?

Dirty Dave said...

I believe those are cord, laced back and forth to keep a lady's skirts from getting caught in the spokes. An early "skirted" fender, of sorts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave. Still in Grass Valley? Hope you'n daughter are doin' well.

Some of the best times I've had in Washington DC were hours spent in the National Space and Air Museum. They have a recreated workshop of the Wright Brothers who were bicycle AND motorcycle mechanics. It's amazing. Motorcycle mechanics inventing the airplane...

Bluer Skies!