Sears sold Napoleon and Josephine bikes that were pretty nice and inexpensive. But after the bicycle bust ca. 1900 it was a race to the bottom for US bike manufacturers. Iver Johnson seemed to be the last holdout making nice bikes for adults.
My best wheel building investment was this downloadable book:
Single speed wheels are easy, and the book will walk you through the trickier stuff. And practice if you want to get good and fast.
Superiors and Paramounts were pretty much made to order and any way you wanted them. The long wheelbase looks like a Superior tourer, but it's missing the little fender mount tabs. Looks like a nice period bike put together by an enthusiast. There were triple cog set ups for the AW hub available.
20 years ago I used to see "closed" signs on antique stores saying "moved to eBay". Before that even in the rural midwest everything was priced for the mythical " Dentist from California" who never actually came through. And don't forget the "Beanie Babies!" signs. Auctions were the only place...
The Lauterwasser bars are sharp period correct- I really like a pair I have on a 1938 Raleigh Gazelle. SOMA makes repros in aluminum and steel. The limp dick stem is going to be hard to find- the lauterwassers were made to give you a lot of reach with the short stem that worked in the late 1930's.
Yep. Automotive rubbing compound it is bad, automotive polishing compound if it is not too bad. Give the bike a REALLY good cleaning first. 1960's and 70's paint can be very thin, so watch out for cutting through.
To keep from bleeding under the tape, shoot on a coat of your base color AFTER you put on your masking. Let it cure, then add your stripe color. A striping brush or a Beugler striper, or even the cheap little glass bottle stripers will work better. Contrary to popular belief, striping is not...