Saturday, December 13, 2014


Herb Harris' 1956 sectioned BSA Gold Star...which I reckon might go for more than a restored Goldie!
The world's biggest vintage motorcycle auctions are less than a month away; it's time to make arrangements!  The Las Vegas auctions by Bonhams and Mecum have become a staple of the global old-bike scene, with nearly 1000 motorcycles for sale, plus tons of parts and memorabilia, plus the opportunity to meet people from around the world. I'll provide some 'color commentary' on Saturday at the Mecum auction for an NBC project, but will definitely start bidding by 10am Thursday at the Bonhams auction at Bally's Hotel.  Their lineup is impressive, and as usual, their automobilia sale in the morning is the best in the business.  This year features the cutaway engine collection of Herb Harris (along with quite a few of his un-cut Vincent beauties), which are motorcycle sculptures par excellence, and includes his complete Earl's Court Show cutaway BSA Gold Star!  Perhaps the only whole motorcycle one can without guilt or argument permanently install in one's living room.  It's a beautiful thing, and comes complete with original signage.
The Ulysse Nardin - Von Dutch mashup...
If you're a Von Dutch fan, or uber-fan, consider this Ulysse Nardin watch, formerly owned by Pete Petersen, who bought it in Korea in 1954.  He and Von Dutch were friends, and one day Dutch spotted the watch, had an idea, and demanded Pete remove it from his wrist! Pete resisted, saying 'it's an expensive watch', but VD would not be deterred, and quickly disassembled it and painted the face with dancing figures and a tiny 'flying eyeball' on the second hand sweep.  Cool stuff!
1 of 29 cast, one of Jeff Decker's most famous pieces.  It's big!  Almost 3' long...
How about an original Jeff Decker sculpture?  One of my favorites is his 'Flat Out' sculpture of Rollie Free's epic, and immortal, ride at 150mph on a Vincent Black Shadow in 1950 on the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Decker used the actual motorcycle as his model for the sculpture, when it was in possession of Herb Harris (it's now in a private collection in California).
The iconic Geo Ham depiction of the '29 AJS V-twin supercharged record-breaker
Prefer 2-d art?  Here's a cool lithograph by Geo Ham, perhaps the most famous motoring/motorcycling artist in the world, whose work in the 1920s and 30s pretty much defines sporting art for the era.  I actually have a copy of this litho in brilliant orange, which was produced by the Moto Club de France for various uses; while mine is devoid of text, this one supports Sport and Tourism with the Club, and depicts a very sporting motorcycle indeed, the V-twin OHC AJS record-breaker of 1929, which wasn't as fast as it needed to be, but was far more beautiful than its rivals.  The bike still exists, as do copies of the great poster.
'Big Daddy' Ed Roth originals
For a walk on the wild side, there's are 2 batches of original pencial-and-ink drawings, and hand-altered reproductions by 'Big Daddy' Ed Roth, which are pretty rare at auction.  They're accompanied by 2 lots of Robert Williams' artwork (he got his start with Roth), and of course a few Von Dutch originals - paintings, motorcycles, and that watch.  Kustom Kulture mania lives!
One of Philip Vincent's original concept drawings of his patented cantilever rear suspension.  I'm actually not certain how different Vincent's concept was from other triangulated swingarm systems, which date back as far as 1906 on motorcycles!
Finally, in the ne plus ultra stakes, a pair of original concept drawings by Philip Vincent from 1928, depicting his patented ideas for a cantilever rear suspension, which all Vincent enthusiasts will recognize. Vincent would have been 20 years old, full of enthusiasm, and about to buy the bankrupt HRD marque from OK Supreme, who had purchased Davies' factory mainly for the real estate. Vincent purchased the name and goodwill of HRD for £450; amazingly, the actual bill of sale from OK Supreme to Philip Vincent is also up for sale at Bonhams!  While it will fetch a bundle, those drawings of Vincent's, while simple and perhaps 'young', are nonetheless amazingly rare and coveted, and expected to fetch around $200k.


Lewis said...

It looks like you may be adding a cut-away display model to your list of most expensive. :-D

The French Owl said...

The AJS on the Geo Ham poster is not the later supercharged one, just the original NA one. This poster was on eBay for ever and did not sell by the way... Maybe more pigeons to be caught in auction houses???


The Vintagent said...

You're quite right - it's the early version, my bad! Such a lovely machine in any case...