1896 "canadian Crawford" Speed Queen


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Brian R.

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 16, 2015
317
537
Toronto, Canada
#1
This left-hand drive Crawford was distributed in Canada by E.C. Hill & Co., Toronto. The Canadian market for bicycles during the boom of the '90s was small relative to England and the U.S.. Although there were several companies building bikes in Toronto and surrounding cities, it was also common for would-be manufacturers to choose to import and distribute rather than manufacture, explaining to the public that the savings from economies of scale were being passed on to the customer:

An excerpt from the catalogue states: "Just a Few Words on Crawfords: During 1895 we sold a large number of these machines, and the purchasing public, as well as ourselves, were astonished at the satisfactory results obtained. The manufacturers are enabled, by turning out immense quantities, to supply a well-finished, durable, up-to-date machine at a medium price, and we have no hesitation in stating that, as in 1895, these wheels will in every case, during 1896, be found to give as good service as any $100 cycle, and give far less trouble from breakages than many so-called high-grade American and Canadian machines. We drew attention in our '95 catalogue to the fact that we were selling this line of wheels on very small margins, preferring to do this rather than prostitute our reputation, by handling inferior goods..."

This bike is an older restoration. Someone has painted the bright parts with silver paint, and strangely I don't see any signs of nickel plating underneath when looking at areas where the paint has been scratched. What would it have looked like when new I wonder. So, this machine is a bit of a mystery to me. I have no idea which parts are original to the bike and which were added during the restoration. I feel confident in saying that the woodwork is not original, but then I'm not an expert in bikes of this era. It seems to be missing a spoon brake. There is a chance it could be an 1897 model, since the name Speed Queen does not appear in the 1896 catalogue. I believe that Crawford switched to right-hand drive after 1897. Comments on its authenticity and words of wisdom are most welcome!
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XBPete

I live for the CABE
May 19, 2016
1,088
2,512
65
Skerry, NY
#2
Very nice bike! I wish I could add to your information, but instead thank you for sharing both the pics and history.

Pretty interesting location, would be tough to have a bike shop on Yonge Street today eh?
 

Brian R.

Finally riding a big boys bike
Oct 16, 2015
317
537
Toronto, Canada
#10
Kevinsbikes, neither hub has any markings that I can see. The b.b. has a 6 digit number. I can't make out the third digit, so I will write it like this: 10#029.
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Likes: KevinsBikes

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