Harley Davidson Head Badge Controversy

Discussion in 'Antique Bicycles Pre-1933' started by 47jchiggins, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. #1 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    So......I know this will probably be a bit of a hot topic but I wanted to share some interesting information. I have had this HD badge but have been hesitant to show it for concern of authenticity as the general consensus has been, if it's not a stamped, tin badge, then its a reproduction. I have had a few "In the know" collectors, both motorcycle and bicycle, who have either seen this badge in person or in very detailed photos who believe this to be authentic, well I hope this email from HD, clears that up.

    Hi Todd.
    Yes, that’s a Harley-Davidson bicycle head badge. I’d put it closer to the end of the run of the bicycle production, about 1920 to 1921.

    Harley-Davidson Motor Company

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin




    *********Always and Never, two words that will get you in trouble in this hobby *********

    Thanks,

    Todd

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    #1 47jchiggins, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2017
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  2. #2 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    Todd man,
    It's a Fake, sorry bud.

    Ivo
     
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  3. #3 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    like the news........
     
  4. #4 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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  5. #5 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Wore out three sets of tires already!

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    Interesting answer he gave you.....I have tried to contact the head of the archives, with no response. Thanks for sharing.
     
  6. #6 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!

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    aren't some of them like cast bronze with a "burlap" textured background?
     
  7. #7 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    As far as I have ever seen, or from people I have trusted as knowledgeable, all the real ones are stamped. I have never heard of "late" badges being cast. These badges have been done for many years in many iterations.
    The HD museum has authenticated bikes I know to be fakes or tributes. They have bikes in their collection that have fake badges... a few turn overs of the people in charge and this is probably forgotten...(keep in mind in the 80s they "Corrected" one of the earliest HD motorcycles that had been in there possession since pre 1910 and there was a lot of talk about how they F'd history for ever)

    This is my OPINION based on years of following HD bikes however I could be wrong- I try to be open minded but on this subject I am fairly convinced and it would take a lot for me to change my opinion.
    2cents
     
  8. #8 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    some of the repros.... not any of the ogs as far as I know see above-
     
  9. #9 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding an Alexander Rocket Bike

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  10. #10 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!

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    ok, so what is this example? real? stamped? cast? how could they stamp such background detail? copper plate?
     
  11. #11 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding an Alexander Rocket Bike

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    Real Deal . Stamped.
     
  12. #12 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Take a close look at the font used for "Milwaukee" in the first badge- not really appropriate for the period. The background pattern is cut into the die and the brass blank is whammed into it.
     
  13. #13 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Moderator Staff Member

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    Exactly what I thought.

    Todd's badge looks etched to me.
     
  14. #14 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    If I were going to reproduce a badge, I would make every attempt to make it look as close to the original or what others perceived as original, as possible. My badge bares no resemblance to the stamped badge, it's even slightly larger, why would someone take such painstaking measures to fake a badge that looked fake?

    I am certain that 100 years ago when these bikes were produced, the first iterations didn't just pop out as exact duplicates of each other. There were parts being supplied by several different manufacturers and if something ran out, what did they do, hault production or did they make substitutions? Same with the end of production, HD had to know when they were winding down production that substitutions were going to be made because they were no longer ordering or producing large quantities of parts.

    Anyone who says they "NEVER" did this or the "ALWAYS" did that, 100 years ago, is frankly full of themselves. WW1 changed they way EVERTHING was manufactured. Some materials were more readily available than others and substitutions were common. Look at automotive manufacturers today, they have modes like, Special Edition, Limited, etc, usually because of changes occurring from one year to the next and reduction of parts production but they still produced a vehicle.
     
    #14 47jchiggins, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
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  15. #15 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    I am trying to see a difference between the font in "Milwaukee" from the badge I posted and the stamped badge, I'm not seeing it, sorry.....

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  16. #16 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    Besides it being brass and awkward looking, what bothers me is damage on the badge. It just looks like it was done for deception as to make it look older. That to me is a major visual red flag. Definitely a copy to me.
     
  17. #17 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Last pic was mine and ended up being a fake. The letters from the og looks different. The fake ones are a bit more squared
     
  18. #18 Posted Oct 11, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    The words in the cast badge, "MILWAUKEE, U.S.OF A.", are set in Helvetica, a font that was not published until 1957.

    In my opinion.

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  19. #19 Posted Oct 12, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    I must admit, the damage has been something that I too have questioned. But how did someone make it? It's not cast, it doesn't look etched, it appears to have been struck, pressed or rolled using dies. I have several period examples of badges made in with same material in the same method. Someone would have had to go through a lot of trouble making a die that was INCORRECT, that just doesn't make sense.
    So what do you think, is the badge below a fake?

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    #19 47jchiggins, Oct 12, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  20. #20 Posted Oct 12, 2017

    I live for the CABE

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    I do not think my badge is cast......it is too uniform in thickness and devoid of imperfections normally associated with cast objects this size.
    So the "MILLWAUKEE, U.S.OF A" " is a different font than mine? My badge letters are clearly more flat due to wear and different methods of manufacturering but I don't see a difference in the font when I look at the outlines or base of the letter, am I missing something?

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    #20 47jchiggins, Oct 12, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017