Big bicycle ads

We’ve come to this, filling slow July Fridays with newspaper copy of old. And advertisements! Don’t forget the advertisements! The real wonder and whimsy of newsprint are in the ads. And for the old ones, that means clip art. Clip art gets dismissed, but clip art should be celebrated. For this effort I’ve searched the word “bicycling” in the digitized newspapers of three states — Alabama, Connecticut and Indiana — for the year 1922. These are the 10 best returns from the bunch. Some of them are wonderful.

“Bicycling is the ideal exercise for women and young girls.”

This ad was in the August 3, 1922 edition of the Montgomery Times. That paper is hard to pin down. There was more than one publication with that name over the course of 150 years or so, and the peculiar way mergers are observed in the news business are always tricky, too.

Similarly, Rambler and America Bicycles would merge before going defunct. Rambler, though, was started by Thomas Jeffery, an Englishman who emigrated to Chicago. He was one of the inventors of the clincher tire/rim (still stopping strong!) and sold out to … make cars.

Klein, the national brand anyway, was in the marketplace until the 1960s, at least.

Meanwhile, in April of 1922, this ad was published in The Huntsville Times, which is still publishing, sorta, today. The magic tonic, this ad says.

Dayton bikes were manufactured by Huffman, which sounds familiar in the bike world. That story goes back to the 1880s, when George Huffman bought a sewing machine company and then moved it from New York to Dayton, Ohio. The first Dayton bike dates to 1892. George’s son, Horace M. Huffman, Sr., later founded Huffman Manufacturing Company and they made Daytons until 1949. They made high-end bikes, invented training wheels and, later launched the popular Huffy brand in the 1950s.

There’s nothing at that address now, assuming the roads and numbering systems are the same a century on, but there is a spin shop nearby today.

Back down to Montgomery, then, where the Montgomery Advertiser (today the largest daily in the state) published this great clip art in the state capital in October of 1922. Obviously, Klein was a big believer in print advertising. (That’s an Oswald joke.)

Have just as much or more fun! Try it and prove it.

This clip art was used a few times that year for Klein ads around the country. I’ve cleaned it up a bit, but a dirty newsprint and a hasty scan make it look like this little trio is escaping a devastating fire behind them.

Mostly I’m excited to see the cartoon women in the advertisements. Bikes were a big equalizer, socially speaking, and you see it in the retail spots.

Let’s go to Connecticut, and visit the New Britain Herald, and check out this Christmas ad from 1922. The Herald was opened in 1880, and is still in operation today.

Make my Christmas gift an Indiana bicycle! (They were works of art, Dad!)

Hadfield Swenson made planes and motors, dating back to at least 1916. They closed earlier in 1922, which is why Charles E. Hadfield lists himself as the successor. He’d previously tried his hand at car accessories. There’s a bank at that location today.

There seem to be a lot of Hadfields in that area still, but the web doesn’t know a lot about what came next for Charles E.

Look at this beautiful, happy woman. “I will miss you while I am off having fun on my bicycle!”

The power of bikes:

As it became safer and less expensive to own, the bicycle became the mainstream transportation tool for everyday use. For women, it also gave them newfound freedom of movement.

The previous generation of Victorian women were culturally expected to stay at home. Idealized for virtues such as domesticity and motherhood, the Victorian woman’s role kept her away from public life. The bicycle afforded women an accepted way to be outside as part of society including when it came to business and politics. Through simple mobility, the bicycle also helped to accelerate many women’s rights.

The departure coaster brake was the one many of us experienced as a kid. Need to stop? Pedal backward. This was in an April 1922 edition of The Hartford Courant — started as a weekly in 1764, a daily since 1837 and, today the largest in Connecticut. The ad was the centerpiece of one side of a double-truck spread marking national bicycle week, in the Sunday edition.

Opposite that advertisement in The Hartford Courant is this amazing graphic.

Ride a bicycle!

I think I will, tomorrow morning!

Other brilliant art from this special will be saved for a later date.

This bit of copy is from the Evansville Press, in Indiana, in May of 1922. I’m all but certain that it is a delightful bit of fiction.

That’s old-fashioned!

This, you see, was about 15 or 25 years after the first real cycling craze in the United States. And a lot of the writing about bikes around this time in the early 1920s was devoted to pointing out that bike sellers were moving more frames now than they were in recent years. It isn’t just for kids anymore, seems to be part of the selling point.

But that pretend city editor definitely needs a tandem.

Also from the Evansville paper, where they were still thinking about the flu, I guess. Why squeeze in with the germs?

Koch is still a big name in Evansville, of course. They stayed at that Third and Pennsylvania location until 1962.

Still in Evansville, the home of H.H. Shaffer.

There’s an apartment complex there now, if I have the correct street. He’d been advertising in the paper for several years. In 1929 he died at home at 46 years of age. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of the Rayo bicycles. brand, but yet I’m hardly an expert in this area. (Or any area, really.) I can use an inflation calculator, however. The $30 quoted in that ad would apparently be equivalent to about $529.13 today (modern inflation notwithstanding).

And we’ll wrap this up in Muncie, Indiana, because what could top Muncie? This bit of copy is from the Muncie Evening Press, which started in about 1880, and was part of a two-paper daily town until 1996. This was the end of a copy-and-paste piece slugged “Bicycles are coming back.”

We’ve ridden bikes, as the piece notes, “a legitimate aid to health and sport,” in Muncie. We might do it again one day. I just discovered, after all, the Cardinal Greenway which goes right through the town.

And now, having expected this to be a brief Friday space filler, but somehow having written a thousand-plus words around 10 zealously selected graphics we’ll wrap it up, thusly:

Ride a bicycle!

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