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Re: Packard Bikes
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Hey Leeedy,

Thanks for the picture(s)!! I can sure see what you mean about that horn button not being the best design and not lasting. Looks like it could very easily get damaged with just regular wear and tear use and I'm not surprised that they are 'scarce as hen's teeth'. Must say, you have quite the collection/archives of vintage bikes... Hat's off, and thanks for sharing. Chris

Posted on: 4/5 18:38
'If you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right!' Henry Ford.
1939 Packard Six, Model 1700
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Quote:

Packard Newbie wrote:
Hey Leeedy,

Thanks for the picture(s)!! I can sure see what you mean about that horn button not being the best design and not lasting. Looks like it could very easily get damaged with just regular wear and tear use and I'm not surprised that they are 'scarce as hen's teeth'. Must say, you have quite the collection/archives of vintage bikes... Hat's off, and thanks for sharing. Chris


Hi Chris, you are most welcome anytime. Happy to help out and happy to respond with accurate info. And this stuff is a lot tougher to find than automotive!

I try to provide original info from the sources.

By the way, all the bicycle had to do was to fall over or the button snag on clothing or anything and it was GAME OVER. Buh-byyye brittle bakelite button!

As for the original special Schwinn-Built handlebars with the built-in bakelite "A.S." button, I shudder to think of what an original set would cost today ...IF anyone could find one. AND yes, the Schwinn-Built Packard bicycle I showed earlier in an ad from 1937 had this exact handlebar and built-in button.

Today, after all these years, most people collecting and restoring Schwinn-Built bicycles from this series and 1937-38 don't even know about the special handlebars and built-in button. This is despite all of the TV shows, "books." internet DIY experts and DIY web sites. "Schwinn" is talked about, rampantly boosterized, fanatically intellectualized, promoted, adored, written about and argued about to death. BUT... bet you won't find AND SEE this source info out there! Especially without shoulda-woulda-coulda guesswork and supposition.

A huge amount of American bicycle history isn't real history. It's gossip, guessing, repetition of myths and whoever has the loudest voices, the most followers. and seals of approvals. Accompanied by uninterpreted reprints or mis-identified reprints. This is what happens when no one knows any better. Make up a good-sounding myth, get enough people to agree on it... and the myth becomes "fact." Like Packard dealers giving away Packard bicycles to sell a car to a balking buyer. Regardless of the truth that this was never the cause or reason for the existence of Packard bicycles.

REgarding the archive collection, yes, over 80,000 original vintage bicycle catalogues, photos, books and more ranging from 1860s to the 1990s, specializing in the Classic Era of American-made bicycles, 1920 to 1965 (as I first defined it in Bicycle Dealer Showcase magazine in 1978). And over 600 films (real films, not videos).

One of the biggest blunders of the book publishers was to refuse to publish the original Classic Bicycles history book I wrote in the 1970s. One very large company told me (and I still have the letter) that there was no serious market for a book on this subject. AND that they also said they would NEVER publish a book on bicycles (ten years later they knocked off my book and used poser people doing cheap imitations of me).

Today, they're still making money off of my ideas and early efforts–all without saying so or even being honest enough to acknowledge my expertise. After all these years, the book publishers and the hobby STILL don't have it right or complete. This is despite dozens of imitators and knock-off attempts.

My manuscript from the 1970s and book remain unpublished to this day. Yet they contain photos and information that [i]no one around today has ever seen or read[/i]. The almighty publishers that were wrong at the end of the 1970s are still wrong today. But they'll never admit it. And book publishers are STILL not placing credit where credit is due as my work continues unrecognized today. But look at the interest in this subject generated just here alone... on a Packard automobile site! And how much bicycle AND automotive history has been revealed just here in this thread?

Anyway, you are most welcome.

Posted on: 4/5 22:43
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Okay, the Schwinn worshippers have had some attention. Let's move on to 1936 and Colson-built Packard bicycles.

Here is an original ad from our collection showing a Colson-buit Packard bicycle sold by an Ohio chain store and shops. Just imagine... they delivered the bicycle to you on a payment plan of just $1 down! Delivered! Still a decent amount of money in 1936 when it could easily buy you five or six gallons of gas. But if you were lucky enough to have a job in those tough times, not bad at all!

While most of the original advertisements for Colson-built Packards show lesser models, here is a very deluxe model. And it differs substantially from Colson-branded bicycles in several details. This one even came factory-equipped with a speedometer!

And this seller was not a wholesale-distributor... this was a retailer... dealing direct with retail customers. So there was no Packard Motor Car Company dealer involved here.

Packard bicycles have generated more silly stories than even Schwinn-Built bicycles–which is a lot! Again there are silly myths about these bicycles on some DIY sites and guess-at-it forums. One outrageous claim has been made that Packard Motor Car Company somehow owned Colson Corporation– the actual manufacturer of Colson bicycles and Colson-built bicycles. Ridiculous. Another absurd myth bandied around is that Colson Corporation was owned by Schwinn. Rubbish. Yet another claims Colson-built Packard headbadges were somehow Schwinn headbadges. Absurd.

One important point. This store ad makes a mythical claim of its own. It states that Packard bicycles are "exclusive" at this store chain–implying no one else sold Packard bicycles. Not true. Packard bicycles were sold by several retailers and bicycle shops coast to coast. Fact. But this just serves to further complicate what is already a complicated subject for most today.

People just plain don't understand how the American bicycle industry and sales operations (whether they were retail or wholesale) worked in this country way back when these bicycles were made. So? The car people have invented their stories. And the bicycle people have invented their stories. Almost none are accurate, but that doesn't seem to stop people from repeating the wild tales! Or making up more stories.

And if someone who really knows how all this worked says so? Try telling that to the folks spinning the yarns and you'll be shouted down. So the situation is what it is. And dopey stories continue on... and on...and on.

Colson Corporation was a large entity in its own right. They made everything from children's sidewalk wheel goods to a full line of very high quality bicycles to hospital equipment and wheelchairs. The company was also famous for its industrial handling equipment, heavy-duty carts and its world-renowned industrial casters. We have almost all of the bicycle catalogues from beginning to end along with many of the industrial catalogues and and numerous factory photos. We interviewed some of its designers back in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s. And yes, we have several Colson bicycles as well as Colson-Built Packard bicycles.

Colson Corporation was located in Elyria, Ohio. This making it a natural to find the particular Ohio company (in the ad) selling Colson-built Packard bicycles. Well over half of Colson's bicycle production was not under the Colson brand. And Colson-Built bicycles were not necessarily the same as "Colson" brand bicycles.

However... if you read closely, you won't find any references to "Colson" in the ad. This despite people on the internet today stating "Colson Packard" –as if this was a legitimate model of Colson brand. Not so.

And again... no mention in this nice advertisement of these Packard bicycles being given away with Packard automobiles. This, no matter how many people out there are still perpetuating this myth. Oh– but the store did give you a red/white/blue bicycle racing cap if you showed up with your parents to look at these Packard bicycles! Have you got yours?

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Posted on: 4/25 11:04
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Now let's roll forward to 1949 and more Colson-Built Packard bicycles. This original ad does not mention "Colson" because Colson was only the manufacturer. "Packard" was NOT a model of Colson bicycles. So the ad–as it should–only mentioned "Packard bicycle."

I can tell you that there are those who will look at this bicycle and quickly tell you it is from the 1930s or that it is "prewar" or "pre-war".... not true. This design existed both before AND after World War 2. (By the way, we have both boy's and girl's version of this design–original Packards).

Regardless. This indiana department store decided to have a bicycle contest. Now guess what they gave away? And–surprise– NO PACKARD AUTOMOBILES involved.

Also this ad also clearly refutes the Ohio chain store claim that Packard bicycles were "exclusive" to their stores.

As one bicycle guy said, "Hey you ruin everybody's fun by presenting the facts instead of made-up stories!" Awwww. Sorry.

Image courtesy of National Bicycle History Archive of America.(NBHAA.com)

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Posted on: 5/14 17:48
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Re: Packard Bikes
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For those who said they could not see the Packard bicycle being given away in the 1949 bicycle contest, here is a more detailed view...

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jpg  PackardBicycleContestDET2WM.jpg (226.09 KB)
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Posted on: 6/13 12:04
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Re: Packard Bikes
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And now... from 1949 all the way to 1976 and back to almighty Schwinn.

Here you can see I didn't just recently get involved with Packard bicycles. No matter how many "experts" there are on the internet and in the hobby and on TV–being worshipped and adored (and paid huge money) today.

And while folks are bowing and groveling to guys on TV who claim they stumbled "into bicycles" in the very late 1980s... here is what was happening at least 10 years earlier!

I collected my first Schwinn literature in the early 1950s and accumulated thousands of pieces. I got my first Phantom in the 1950s. Started restoring them in the late 1960s. Started writing about them (including in newsletters and magazines like POPULAR MECHANICS) in the 1970s. By the 1970s I already had a fleet of Packard-branded bicycles. So this is how I know this stuff... for well over 50 years.

Here is a letter from Schwinn (yesss, in Chicago...I had correspondence with them for at least 20 years until new regimes took over and the company developed amnesia). Companies only remember what they want to remember.

People have VERY short memories (even shorter than the companies). The internet and TV have erased nearly everything and everyone they choose to ignore for the convenience of creating new "experts" out of thin air. Experts by self-proclamation, the internet, a TV camera and a microphone, a web site... but not time spent accumulating knowledge and information.

With the internet and TV, whatever went on in the previous world could then be easily filtered out–as if it never happened. This is how it works. And this is how seriously important people in bicycle history like Marshal "Major" Taylor were allowed to die penniless and then be buried in un-marked pauper graves after making millions for the very industry that forgot all about him. This part is conveniently forgotten... or purposely swept under the rug. Let's pretend this didn't happen! Today with Major Taylor safely dead, heyyyy ... the internet LOVES him. There are "experts" and Taylor "collectors" all over the place. There are clubs named after him. Monuments in his honor. Evvvvverybody loves Major. Everybody knows about Major. And there are articles and magazines and new books about Major. There are documentaries And films and web sites. If I show an original bicycle component designed by Major Taylor in my collection these days, somebody born after the Apollo moon landing wants to know the "provenance"! But where was the love when Major was starving and couldn't get a biscuit to eat? When he was desperately selling his own books door-to-door and was dying all alone? Where was the love when Major's body laid unclaimed in an Illinois morgue for a month? Where was the love when love COUNTED?

Anyway, when the Holy Grail company decided to repop the Black Phantom in 1995– DECADES after I revived it and made it famous in magazines and newsletters (even on CBS TV in the 1970s) nobody called me or wrote. They couldn't remember seeing mine on display at industry trade shows like BDS-EXPO and INTERBIKE over many years. I had the first Black Phantom in a collector newsletter. Had the first restored one featured in magazines. Had the first one on TV. Wrote the first history of Black Phantoms when even Schwinn couldn't remember the years they made them! But hey. All that was lost in the sands of time. There were new "experts" that dropped out of nowhere. Nobody offered a repop to me or asked advice on making them or about their history. And the new people had no idea who I was. Funny how this stuff works.

And Packard bicycles? Welll, shucks. Everybody knows they gave them away to sell cars–right? And everybody knows that you can make up any silly story about Packard bicycles and get it posted online or even in publications. It doesn't take any expertise. Make something up! Just dial up the almighty internet and google and DIY. Or turn on the tube and watch guys on TV. Now how would I know something about Packard bicycles when we have DIY bicycle sites and TV guys???? How indeed?!

Anyway... here is one of Schwinn's Schwinn-centric explanations of the Packard name on bicycles they built. It is mostly correct, but leads one to falsely believe that Schwinn Bicycle Company had some kind of lock on using the Packard brand or was the only bicycle company using this sales method. Schwinn neither invented this method nor had any kind of exclusive on using it–no matter who may say otherwise today.

Schwinn also did NOT invent balloon tires on bicycles. But that's another story. No matter how many mountain bike guys and fanatical collectors, museums and "historians" say otherwise. This is a VERY easily invalidated fallacy–no matter how many years it has persisted.

The last part of the letter from Schwinn has the nice fellow attempting to educate me about something I already well very knew, having worked at the OEM level in the car industry–and having designed a few things myself. Some that actually –YES–got made and out in the market. I already knew for certain where the Schwinn headlight evolved from ...and personally knew car designers who also did bicycles. So this part of the response here is dead wrong. And I knew for certain that in the 1920s to 1960s American bicycles copied cars and American cars copied bicycles. But hey. I didn't argue. I enjoyed getting the letters–and I have stacks of them.

Important note: reference here in the letter to "Schwinn's California Cruiser" model is yet another point to ponder. That model name wasn't Schwinn's at all. Nor was the beach cruiser idea. It actually belonged to my old friend Larry McNeely who owned a bicycle shop named "ReCycled Cycles" back then. He sold both old and new bicycles and began holding swap meets in the 1970s where I was always present.

The shop was located in Newport Beach, then Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach, California. Larry more or less formalized the notion of a balloon tire bicycle made for cruising the paths at the beach. Larry came up with a bicycle he called (you got it) "California Cruiser" and went into limited production with them– special headbadge and all (yes I have a NOS headbadge and original sales flyers–see image below).

The generic term was "beach cruiser"... and most were originally cobbled together out of old balloon tire bicycles. The idea spread all the way to Florida and the Keys where they called them "conch cruisers." Schwinn visited Larry's shop, smelled money and voila! Suddenly they soon afterward had their own "California Cruiser" model–even put it in catalogues. But... all without benefit of permission. But Larry successfully made them stop using the name. So? Schwinn changed the model name to...er..uh... "Spitfire." So if you run across one of the "California Cruiser" models, you actually have a rare bird–especially these days. Poor Larry never received credit or real financial reward for all his hard work. But a lot of people sure cashed in on his ideas. Now you know.

By the way... anyone telling you that Schwinn alone devised this method of selling bicycles under many different headbadges or brand names is naively and sadly mistaken. This method in fact was used by the ENTIRE American bicycle industry for the better part of 100 years. Everybody did it. Not just Schwinn.

And the Schwinn-Built Packard I was restoring in the mid 1970s? It turned out to be a 1939 Packard DX Deluxe– red and ivory. It had mostly original paint, headlight, rear carrier and horntank. I completely restored it to like new (my restorations were real restorations–back to original, not refurbishes with a set of new wheels and brand-X parts from modern times). And yes, not only did I have the factory serial list as of 1977, but I had also begun work on pre-1948 Schwinn serial numbers–something nobody had. This was decades before there was any kind of hobby or internet presence or widespread circulation of serial listings. And my lists differ from the ones distributed in "the hobby" today.

You've already seen my Schwinn-Built 2-tone green 1941 Packard Deluxe Autocycle earlier in this thread. And you've seen my 1940 blue & cream Schwinn-Built Deluxe DX. Now you know about my 1939 and you have evidence I was restoring it 45 years ago! Of course I have many other Packard bicycles not made by ASC.

As for anyone today claiming expertise on Packard bicycles or Schwinn-Built bicycles of any kind... or parading around on TV being paid millions (with fleets of trucks and research staffs) or internet videos claiming to know "history" of these bicycles, ask them what THEY were doing in 1976? Bet they can't tell you this stuff or SHOW you this stuff. And how many prewar Schwinn-Builts, Black Phantoms or Packard bicycles they have owned and restored? Ask them to show you their correspondence files with Schwinn Bicycle Company in or before the 1970s (and believe me, I've got piles more). I did it all alone without TV camera crews, research staffs, sound crews, fleets of trucks, multi-million dollar budgets, NO internet, no web sites, no organized hobby, no repopped parts... well, perhaps you get the picture.

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Posted on: 6/13 12:22
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Now moving to 1925 and lingering a bit longer with Arnold, Schwinn & Company. This comes from our 1925 Schwinn-Built bicycles dealer book. Notice it does not say "Schwinn Packard"... but merely "PACKARD."

Note that only one color scheme is listed: "dark blue with white trim." The paint apparently received special treatment listed as "four coats" and "hand rubbed."

The awkward handlebars were simply Lawson dropped racing bars turned up-side down.

Now, there are those who would look at this bicycle and immediately announce to you that it is a "Iver Johnson arch frame"! And say so with certainty and want to argue this into the ground!

(HINT: we also have a nearly complete run of original Iver Johnson bicycle catalogues and dealer literature from beginning in the 1800s to end in 1940s. We have collected I-J stuff since at least the 1960s. The company also made motorcycles and guns.)

In fact a couple of these have turned up over the last few years with sellers and internet "experts" swearing they are selling Iver Johnsons.

What do you think?

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Posted on: 7/14 22:52
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Staying with 1925 and more for the Schwinn worshippers out there... down on their knees in praise.

So... you like the 1925 Schwinn-Built Packard bicycle? Like that arch-bar design do ya?

I mentioned that some of those who are Iver Johnson fans might argue that the 1925 Schwinn-Built Packard you've just seen is an Iver Johnson. Of course it wasn't/isn't.

But just for anyone who might argue the point, here are images from original Iver Johnson literature from the NBHAA archive (which has almost every I-J catalogue from beginning to end).

By the way... WHO made Iver Johnson bicycles famous by winning loads of bicycle races on them at the turn of the 19th century? Why, the guy I mention in a couple of postings back from this one: a fellow named Major Taylor. Someone who Iver Johnson couldn't seem to remember when he was dying alone in dire poverty. The circles intersect, don't they?

I'll start off with an original 1907 Iver Johnson ad just to show you that this frame style was around for many years. Of course there were numerous variations in the I-J arch bar frame over many models and many years. However, the arch bar frame with the tongue between the upper and lower bar is what we are pointing out here.

Oh... and hopefully the pointing feathered arrow in the 1907 Iver ad won't get one of the "Pierce-Arrow Bicycle" people started up again. As we have said many times... an arrow in an old ad with a bicycle does NOT make that bicycle a "Pierce-Arrow" (such as some of the outlandish arguments on THAT subject go!). No such thing as a "Pierce-Arrow" line of bicycles made by George N. Pierce or his descendent companies–no matter who wants to argue such silliness. Another never-ending debate– no matter how much factual evidence I have produced to end it.

While over the years there have been what I call "Pierce-Arrow Pretenders" (labeled so by a bicycle shop in modern times)... the REAL original bicycles made by the George N. Pierce Company and Pierce Cycle Company were merely known as "Pierce" bicycles–no "Arrow." Only the car line was known as "Pierce-Arrow." Yesssssssss, the logo for Pierce Cycle Company was the word "PIERCE" overlaid on a feathered arrow (which is the silly argument that "Pierce-Arrow bicycle" conspiracists chose to use in arguments). BUT... the name of the company was "PIERCE CYCLE COMPANY" and both that name and the name on their catalogues was simply "PIERCE" and NOT "Pierce-Arrow" (and NBHAA has most Pierce Cycle catalogues too).

Now. Next image below is a Patent Features page from the original 1925 Iver Johnson dealerbook. Note the frame design... and the fact that it was patented. Hmmmm.

Finally, an image of the 1925 Iver Johnson Model 87 "Truss Bridge Roadster" from the 1925 I-J dealerbook. Look familiar, huh?

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jpeg  I-J1925Model87WM.jpeg (2,481.46 KB)
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Posted on: 8/3 18:10
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Now to an early 1930s bicycle wholesale-distributor catalogue that shows bicycle ornaments. The ornaments here were clearly scaled-down pieces inspired by automobile radiator ornaments.

Note the "Flying Lady" ornament in the lower right-hand corner, similar the the one featured on Packard automobiles. Except in this case, the "donut" wheel the lady is "chasing" has been flattened!

Over the years in the USA there were numerous Packard-inspired bicycle ornaments. I showed you some of these ornaments earlier in this thread. Here is yet another.

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Posted on: 8/28 11:19
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Re: Packard Bikes
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Since I have been on the subject of ASC's 1925 Packard bicycle clone of Iver Johnson's model 87... and since I have mentioned World Champion TOC bicycle racer Major Taylor (who made I-J's bicycles famous)– and the fact that his death went ignored, I want to pay tribute to another related life and death.

I have only recently learned that my friend, Andrew Ritchie, who wrote a 1980s biography book of Major Taylor has just passed. I got Andrew onto a Los Angeles radio show and other publicity for him years ago when his book was first published. We spent time touring around SoCal. Of course we exchanged numerous communications over the years.

Andrew wrote a first-class history of Major Taylor and wrote other books as well. Although he was originally from the United Kingdom, we met decades ago in Northern California and continued to communicate for many years. After many years of living in California, Andrew returned to the U.K. in recent years where there is still water and greenery. He was reportedly out in nature, observing a meteor shower on one of his last nights.

While this is a slight bit tangental to Packard bicycles, it is directly important in light of the information I have provided for you in this thread–especially in recent postings. Whether you knew Andrew or not... and whether you read his books or not, he was a great writer, great historian and a good friend. His loss is a huge one.

I am including a photo of Andrew and myself (I'm holding Andrew's Major Taylor bio and Major Taylor's own rare original book that Taylor wrote). Both books are autographed. Nobody seems to remember it, but I appeared discussing Major Taylor in the HBO TV Arthur Ashe production documentary of Journey of the African American Athlete. This 1996 film documentary was narrated by famous actor, Samuel L. Jackson and featured a number of sports celebrities...

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Posted on: 8/28 13:58
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