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Real or reproduction?

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100bikes

Wore out three sets of tires already!
This is an auction item near me. It isn't my particular category, but
so enjoy exploring bicycles like this.

He is the question - is it a real 1860's child's high wheeler or is it a piece of yard art?
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Owner's description and history are detailed in posting, as are many more photo's and
an "appraisal" from 1998.

And discuss.......................................



rusty
 
Hello Rusty! That is definitely not a reproduction or decorative piece. That is a real original youth's bicycle from the 1800s for a 10 year old or so boy. However, it is doubtful that it is 1860s, but rather very late 1870s to early 1880s (circa 1880). I can also tell you, that it is not an Otto Bicycle, I don't believe, which were built by Western Toy Company of Chicago. The frame and fork head are not consistent to those, and those are built of solid malleable iron and steel tube. It could be a similar make though; there was one called the "Saint Nicholas", which was I suppose, marketed as if it was built in Santa's Workshop, and to be a Christmas gift for your child at the time perhaps. There are some other very similar makes and models from that same era as well. It is a very nice and decorative piece, but do bear in mind, unless you are a child, due to the size it is not rideable, so that knocks the value in my opinion a bit. It does look restored or repainted for what that's worth. I bought an adolescent/adult Otto bicycle frame a couple of years ago, missing wheels and missing parts, but otherwise a model that is rideable by a person of my size (5ft 10in), $600. I will have built for it a 42 inch wooden front wheel, for 30 inch inseam according to the catalog. To restore the bicycle will be $1000, so $1600 total. It is a similar make to this bicycle in the auction, and it will be larger, but have less original parts, so perhaps you can calculate from that what you feel a value for this auction bicycle should be. Of course, there are possibly less Saint Nicholas machines surviving than Otto machines, so that is also to be considered. That is my two cents on this bicycle; Good luck in the auction, and thanks for posting!

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here is a St Nicholas from the Copake Auction- I think this may be like what's in your auction
this link might be broken
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I also confirm it is not a reproduction.
Wooden hand grips seem too long and seat looks too long and redone but this isn't a biggie as the auction bike retains the front wheel brake hardware.
The St. Nicholas Toy Company may have stamped their maker's name into the frame (usually near the steering head) but I am not sure of this location.
Their design was to use a T-shaped beam for the backbone as you've shown.
OTTO's are more of a round tubular frame and fittings with the word OTTO cast into it's cast iron seat.
The "rake angle" of the front forks on the auction bike seems is than usual as is the widening space between the backbone frame as it travels to the rear wheel.
This increased rake could have been cause by more than a kid (probably a adolescent or adult weight person) thus bending the steering spindle plate.
I also noticed the front wheel on both the auction bike and the Copake bike have "felloe plates" at the two bent wood felloe joints and both rear wheels do not furthering my belief it is an original St Nicholas Toy Company machine.
I would take the advice posted by vincev above and search ST. NICHOLAS TOY COMPANY to compare each and every part and who knows, someone on the CABE or on THE WHEELMEN may have a sister machine as well for reference.

I have (3) St Nicholas Catalogs for sale: 1880's catalog (reprint) and 1893 and 1894 original catalogs. PM me if interested.
Mike Cates, CA.
 
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I saw it on the auction site, but didn't want it. It was up to $1250 last time I looked. What did it sell for?
Looks to me like it didn't meet reserve. $1250 is in the ball park of what I would have guessed it might be worth or go for roughly. Unfortunate it didn't sell, but can you imagine if a fellow had a high wheel bicycle, and a son (or daughter), and the both of them would ride in a Fourth of July or Christmas parade dressed in old time attire using that bicycle from the auction- that would be something to see!
 
Looks to me like it didn't meet reserve. $1250 is in the ball park of what I would have guessed it might be worth or go for roughly. Unfortunate it didn't sell, but can you imagine if a fellow had a high wheel bicycle, and a son (or daughter), and the both of them would ride in a Fourth of July or Christmas parade dressed in old time attire using that bicycle from the auction- that would be something to see!
I wouldn't put my child on that bike
 
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