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Columbia Model 41 bicycle, 1896

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Columbia Model 41 bicycle, 1896
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 41-230


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection 1896-1927

Columbia Model 41 bicycle, detail
Columbia Model 41 bicycle, detail

Iver Johnson bicycle

Columbia Model 41 bicycle
Catalog #: 313,486, Accession #: 188,297
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
This bicycle was donated to the Smithsonian in 1950, and is a highly decorated, customized, drop-frame bicycle. The frame is nickel plated, with gold-plated decorations. On the steering head appear the initials "MNW" in gold, emblazoned with small cut diamonds and emeralds. It was owned by Mrs. M. N. Wiley of Montgomery, Alabama, and was donated to the Museum by Mrs. Wiley's son.
Physical Description

Artifact. This machine, a Model 41 Columbia, made by the Pope Manufacturing Co., of Hartford, Connecticut, weighs approximately 30 pounds, and bears the serial number 12877.

This bicycle's frame is made of high-carbon-steel tubing and 4 1/2 percent nickel-steel tubing, the joints and brackets of which are machined forgings. This Columbia machine has a double-drop frame, and two small gussets connect the bars for additional strength. The wheel rims, of laminated wood, are approximately 25 inches in diameter and have 28 and 36 tangential steel spokes, respectively, front and rear. They are fitted with 28-inch, single-tube, pneumatic tires. The tires are not original, but are replacements of about 1930.

The hubs are machined from solid drop forgings of steel, and are fitted with detachable ball cases for tire bearings. Each end of the front and rear axles is supported on a ball bearing. Lubrication is through oil holes in the wheel hubs. The rear-wheel sprocket is driven from the front sprocket by a block chain on the right side of the machine. The tension of the chain is adjusted by moving the rear axle backwards or forwards in slots at the rear end of the rear fork.

There is no coaster attachment, the pedals always turning while the bicycle is in motion. The nonadjustable crank throws are 6 inches in length, and the pedals are rubber covered and mounted on ball bearings. The two halves of the crank assembly are dovetailed together within the crank hanger, yet can be easily separated and removed from the hanger, which is fitted with two covered oil holes for lubrication of the crank ball bearings.

The curved, tubular handlebars, tipped with ivory grips bordered with wide silver bands, are embellished with gold-plated, flowerlike decorations, as is the frame. A rear mudguard and a chain guard, also nickel-plated and decorated, are supplied, as is a hand-operated spoon brake operating on the front tire and controlled by a lever pivoted on the right handlebar. Twine is laced across the chain guard and the rear mudguard to protect the rider's clothing.

The decorated leather saddle is the Columbia Model 22, introduced in 1896. It consists of a black leather seat resting on a flat spring, with a spiral spring at the rear. It is adjustable vertically, as well as backwards and forwards. An oil lamp marked "Aladdin, Tiffany & Co., sterling," fitted with a large clear lens in the front, and small red and green lenses in the left and right sides, is attached to a bracket at the front fork. Foot-rests are not provided on the fork. A decorated warning bell is fitted to the left handlebar.

Date Made:
Gift of Col. N. J. Wiley
The Pope Manufacturing Company was founded by Albert A. Pope in the 1870s and was the first company to manufacture bicycles on American soil. Pope, who had previously exported bicycles from England, began building bicycles under the trade name "Columbia" in the Weed Sewing Machine Company's factory in Hartford Connecticut in 1879. By 1890, the company was so succesful it had bought the factory from Weed because it needed all the space.

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