Elgin Sewing Machine And Bicycle Company

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Thumper59

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Hi, I'm looking for info if you have it. I think I must have stumbled into a very rare bike. It is from the "Elgin Sewing Machine And Bicycle Company" in Elgin Illinois. I can only find that the company did exist from 1896-99, and that they also produced bicycles for 2 years of the 4. I also found one print ad picture online, but nothing more about their bicycles. The model name is "Gunning" with an ad slogan of "We are Gunning for you". The frame, handle bars, and fork tubing is fluted or corrugated. The head badge is very elaborate, but there are no wheels or fenders on it. I worked on my own and others bikes when younger and would not hesitate to take on a restoration, but I know zero about antique bikes and any info about it or it's possible value would be very helpful.
 

gkeep

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sounds like a really interesting bike from the Golden Age, pictures please.

Based on the search I just did there is a healthy supply of misinformation about Elgins out there thanks to ads like this for a cheaply restored Sears Elgin from the 1920s or 30s. What a fantasy price and who'd go to all the trouble of repainting and not fix the seriously bent forks? I see they put a Ridable Replicas seat on from my neighbor Greg, cost them a fraction what an original seat would be. Hopefully your bike has not been "restored" like this one.

How could they get their historic information, price and date of the bike so wrong?
1287936
 

piercer_99

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
regarding the original post though, I bring you this.

That is all I have for you on this.

So, with that in mind, how about some photos of your bike, and we can answer your other questions.

Pierce
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Thumper59

'Lil Knee Scuffer
I'm not as savvy on the computer as I would like to be. I will try to take and load photos tomorrow. Where can I get one of those books? I could find nothing. Has anyone ever seen another of these? That said, you don't know how happy I am to see the picture! I was afraid I was going to have to try to find original fenders and chain guard, but it looks like it didn't have any. It has the "lucky seven" seat post. I don't know which of the 3 handlebar options is on it, but they are original because the tubing matches the rest of the frame (no grips on them). The chain and crank are there and move freely, but when I took it out of the car today to put it in the garage, I saw one side of the crank had been broken off and a very poor job was done welding it back together. (I did not look it over at all when I bought it, at the price of $33 I just wanted it in my car and gone before someone else offered more for it). There is only one pedal and it is an Ideal brand rubber block pedal, so probably not original. The paint is dirty, and maybe faded, but mostly there, and original. If cleaned up it looks like it would be an odd pale green with a yellow pinstripe in the bottom of each groove in the frame. Also some pinstripes on the forks. The aluminum fork crown caps are both there with "Gunning" cast into the tops of them. It is unrestored, in as found (dry barn find) condition. From the specs. in the book there, and what I see on the net, it looks like it may be hard and very costly to find parts for this. Looks like $1000 price range for parts if I'm patient and lucky. Thanks for the answers and I will try to get photos posted.
 
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Blue Streak

Finally riding a big boys bike
Elgin Sewing Machine & Bicycle Company history:

August 1895 - Incorporated by Robert J. Gunning, George B. Haines and James S. McKenney with $200,000 capital stock
October 1895 - Company purchased land and buildings of a defunct concern in Elgin IL for $30,000. Moved manufacturing there from Arlington Heights IL
January 1896 - Employed 150 workers
May 1896 - Factory was heavily damaged by a cyclone/tornado
August 1896 - Financial troubles but appear to have got through it
January & February 1897 - Exhibited at Chicago and New York City bicycle shows
April 1897 - More financial troubles
December 1897 - Last ad found for them
July 1899 - Factory purchased by a new automobile concern. Article states bicycle plant had been idle for some time.
July 1900 - Automobile maker fails

Here are some references. Looks like these were only sold 1896 and 1897. Yours may be 1897 model as corrugated tubing is not mentioned until January 1897.

Can you find a serial number on the frame? Looking forward to seeing photos of yours.

October 24, 1895 issue of The Bearings:
1288395

1288397


1288398


November 15, 1895 issue of The Wheel:
1288399

1288400


February 21, 1896 issue of The Wheel:
1288401


May 26, 1896 issue of The Chicago Chronicle:
1288402


June 5, 1896 issue of The Wheel:
1288403


July 30, 1896: Gunning bicycle with serial number 3573 listed as stolen.

August 20, 1896 issue of The Tuscaloosa Gazette:
1288404


September 2, 1896 issue of The Watchman and Southron (Sumter SC)
1288405


January 29, 1897 issue of The Wheel:
1288406


February 11, 1897 issue of The Referee:
1288407


December 15, 1897 issue of The Lenoir Topic (Lenoir NC)
1288408
 
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Thumper59

'Lil Knee Scuffer
I can try for some better photos if it doesn't rain tomorrow. You can see the ugly crank welding job in one of them. It can probably be repaired or replaced as they likely did not make their own. The ad refers to Fairbanks built up wheels, are those a laminated wood rim? At first I thought maybe $1000 for missing parts, but the more I look I think I'm not likely to find correct parts at any price.
 

fordmike65

Riding a '37 Colson Imperial
MY GOD!!! Please...if that is indeed original paint & plating, PLEASE do not strip & "restore" this bike. It deserves to be preserved as much as possible. Put your feelers out and take your time finding the correct parts...or some close period pieces. I have never seen one of these, & I'm pretty sure most Cabe members are with me on that. WOW!!! I am in awe.... :eek:

1288514
 

Thumper59

'Lil Knee Scuffer
MY GOD!!! Please...if that is indeed original paint & plating, PLEASE do not strip & "restore" this bike. It deserves to be preserved as much as possible. Put your feelers out and take your time finding the correct parts...or some close period pieces. I have never seen one of these, & I'm pretty sure most Cabe members are with me on that. WOW!!! I am in awe.... :eek:

View attachment 1288514
Like many things happen, it was just a combination of being in the right place at the right time. The others interested in it were too busy looking to find non-existent info on their Ebay phones. In the meantime I purchased it and locked it in my car and left. Ebay provides a lot of help for what to buy or not buy, but I don't have a smart phone, so I make my own decisions about things. I've made mistakes and wasted money but to me that is how I learn, NOT with Ebay. Besides without a smartphone I figured I couldn't lose, I was sure the head badge had to be worth at least what I paid!
 
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piercer_99

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Oh ma gawd.

This is a beautiful machine. Very nice, congratulations.

Heck, I would leave the welded together crank arm on it, just part of it's story.

That frame is artwork.
 

SKPC

I live for the CABE
Everything nicely fluted: "Corrugated" frame tubes and big ones at that! This may be a sort-of-clean-it (but not much)bike as there cannot be many. Even has an early 3-piece crank on it! Wheels, seat and grips aren't too much to ask for. Looks like no fenders needed either.
 
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Thumper59

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Everything nicely fluted("corregated") frame tubes and big ones at that! This may be a sort-of-clean-it but not much bike as there cannot be many. Even has an early 3-piece crank on it! Wheels, seat and grips aren't too much to ask for. Looks like no fenders needed either.
Fortunately the ad pictures do not show fenders or a chain guard on the men's Gunning. Found a serial # of 5526 on frame.
 

gkeep

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Thats is one of the most interesting TOC bikes I've seen here in my brief years as a bike cultist. I'll bet the Smithsonian warehouses don't have one of them, or the Henry Ford Museum, or any other major transportation museum. Anyone aware of another with that fluted frame? o_O It's the bike find of the month at least! WE are not worthy...
 
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