It’s been a long time since we revisited Carl and Clary Burgwardt’s “The Pedaling History Museum Collection”, which was set to be sold off 12 years ago. At the time, there was a disjointed effort to try to preserve the historic bicycle collection, and all of the related memorabilia, as a whole.
Six years after trying to stave off a range of interested collectors from around the world from poaching the collection (many of the bikes were manufactured right here in Buffalo), Copake Auction Inc. held the first of three auctions on December 1, 2012. At the time, there were 534 registered bidders from the states as well as Canada, Russia, Mexico, Spain, UK, Italy, Czech Rep., Cyprus, Australia and The Netherlands, according to Copake Auction.
“The sale featured 471 unreserved lots including 170 bicycles, memorabilia, trophy’s, medals, steins, buttons and other bicycle related collectables. The Museum opened in 1991 and represented The Burgwardt family’s passion for all things bicycle related and is considered one of the best collections in the world.” – Copake Auction
Apparently the initial auction was a standing room only event, with a number of remote bidders that helped to amass the 1,200 alt bids. As much as it is unfortunate that Buffalo could not have retained the collection in its entirety (Buffalo had a chance to snag the entire collection for $1 million), we are lucky that The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum did manage to acquire some of the locally manufactured gems.
On Saturday, September 23, from 9am to 10:30am, a reception/ribbon cutting will be held at the downtown Buffalo museum, where Jim and Mary Ann Sandoro (museum owners/operators) will unveil the procured pieces from the collection, ranging from the 1860s to the 1920s. The acquisition of the bicycles and memorabilia was made possible with the help of the Wendt and Oishei Foundations.
Some of the highlights of the retained Buffalo collection include velocipedes, high wheel cycles, tricycles, safety cycles, medals, medallions, awards, trophies, cycle lamps, helmets, cycling steins, cyclometers, lithographs, photographs, and cycling paraphernalia. Featured local companies that manufactured the cycles include Pierce Cycles, Buffalo Cycle, Buffalo Home Trainer, Buffalo Foot Cycle, Buffalo Tricycle Company, Chautauqua, Eclipse, Electric City, Heintz & Munschauer, Fenton, Favorite, Globe, Maid of the Mist, Punnett, Queen, Saturn, Straight, and Tribune.
A couple of prized possessions to keep a lookout for at the Buffalo museum include a Triplet cycle that once belonged to world champion cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, who was a black man known as the fastest rider in the world. There is also a Globe Cycle #88 that was purchased by William H.H. Talbert of Buffalo, husband of Mary B. Talbert, organizer of The Niagara Movement, forerunner of the NAACP.
It will be interesting to see how much of the collection remains in Buffalo, especially considering the unfathomable vast array of objects that once sat under one roof in Orchard Park. According to Jim Sandoro, he was able to acquire most of the collection that had ties to Buffalo/WNY, which is great news.
Ultimately, it would have been awesome to secure the entirety of the collection, because it was that magnificent, and at one point there was a concept plan bandied about that envisioned a downtown Buffalo museum dedicated to the Burgwardt’s life work. We are lucky that Wendt and Oishei understood the importance of the collection, as it related to Buffalo and the region, because there were few others that stepped up to do anything about it.
The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum | 263 Michigan Ave, Buffalo, NY 14203 | 716-853-0084
Following is the list of highlights from the Copake Auction, which attracted collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world.
Highlights from the sale in the category of early bicycles include a Wood Bros. c. 1869 “boneshaker” made at 596 Broadway, New York City $4,025, a c. 1878 Shire “boneshaker” manufactured in Detroit Mich. $7,475 and a 1886 Quadrant tricycle $9,775. The ever popular high wheel category was represented by a c. 1892 Telegram, the only known example that has surfaced and top lot in this auction brought $26,450, a c. 1887 G & J “American Safety” sold to The American Bicycle Museum in Ohio for $24,150, a c. 1886 Special 45” Pony Star high wheel made in Smithville NJ brought $8,900 and a c. 1889 46” Springfield Roadster sold for $7,900 to a Museum in the Czech Republic. High wheel bicycle accessories included a Columbia “Queen of the Night” combination hub lamp & cyclometer $8,900 and a LUCAS “King of the Road” hub lamp $2,875.
Hard tire safety bicycles were well represented including an unusual c. 1892 Columbia Military bicycle with full field equipment $9,775, a c. 1891 Elliot Hickory $7,475 and a very scarce c. 1890 Iver Johnson $10,925. Pneumatic cycles included a c. 1895 League shaft drive chainless, considered the first commercial chainless $9,000 (estimate: $3,200-3,700); several rare wooden frame pneumatic safeties including an Old Hickory $14,375 and a Chilion $9,200; a very unusual Gormully & Jeffery safety with accessory removable walking cane saddle $6,900; and a c. 1904 Terrot with innovative 2 speed drive $5,500.
A c. 1937 Elgin “bluebird” considered industrial design as art sold for $9,775. Other Balloon bicycles included a selection of Monark Silver Kings including a c. 1948 “Hex tube” $5,750, a c. 1937 “Flo Cycle” $3,100, a c. 1937 model $1,600 and a rare tricycle $$2,990. A whimsical c. 1917 water bicycle soared past the high estimate to bring $5,460 and the Schwinn Stingray was represented by both a “Lemon Peeler” $1,495 and a “Pea Picker” $948. Other bicycles of interest included a 1960 Bowden “Spacelander” $13,800, a rare c. 1955 Schwinn 20” Black Phantom $4,025 and a c. 1984 David Sherrell Classic $4,700.
Collectibles included a c. 1895 Boston Commonwealth “Century” medal $977, a c. 1898 Wheelman award medal with ruby inlay $977, a KODAK bicycle camera $1,495, a 19th c. ironstone creamer with transfer decoration of ladies racing velocipedes $1,955, a small collection of 19th c. head badges $1,250, a single head badge from a rare “Lindy” bicycle $488, an illuminated Columbia bicycle dealer sign $690, a collection of chocolate & ice cream molds $690 and a very desirable19th c. Pierce bicycle poster $9,200.
Lead image: Copake Auction