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2011年8月 6日 (土)

Guarantee Medals (Part 1)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿する予定です。
Note some of the links are to posts that I have not yet put into English.

There are many things I find interesting about old Japanese bicycles, fender ornaments, cloisonne badges, revolving bells, celluloid grips, leather saddles, beaded edge rims & tires, chaincases, frame covers, 3 layer enamel paint & pinstriping etc.  To a varying degree most of these can be found on vintage bicycles from other countries.  However, one item on vintage Japanese bicycles that I have not yet seen on vintage bicycles from other countries is the guarantee medal.  If you have ever seen catalogs of vintage Japanese bicycles you have probably noticed a strange item hanging from the top tube.

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The guarantee medal is typically a small medal varying in diameter from 3cm - 6cm. It bears the manufacturer's name and/or logo on the front and has the details of the guarantee on the back.   It was most commonly attached to the top tube via a leather strap. To remove the guarantee medal one would have to cut the leather strap as the strap ends were securely riveted.
Photo

The custom of attaching these guarantee medals was in place as far back as 1930's, possibly earlier.  The medals were predominantly made of metal; however, there are some that were made of specially treated paper and in the late 1950's early 60's plastic.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, vintage Japanese bicycles, especially those from the 1950's, have the manufacturer's name or logo on nearly each and every part, and the bicycles themselves, as a whole, are true works of art.  The guarantee medal is no exception.  It proudly bears the manufacturer's name and many are works of art in their own right.  Like many old things, they are over engineered and therein lies the beauty.  Created before manufacturers value engineered a product from every angle and stripped them of anything that was beyond the bare minimum.

Take for example this exquisite guarantee medal from Nichibei Fuji.  The use of old Chinese (KANJI) characters, and katakana for particles, as well as the order of reading right to left are sure signs that this was produced prior to 1945.  Let's take a closer look. The symbol for Nichibei Fuji being Mt. Fuji appears in the center, the background is the sun with its rays forming the top half of the border, the bottom half has a propeller and cherry blossoms.   
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The reverse side states that the company guarantees the product to be free from defects and will standby its product.
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Here is another example, a guarantee medal from Mitsuuma.
Quite prestigious and elegant, to me I would rather have one of these than a slip of paper.
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This is quite an interesting guarantee medal.  Japanese vintage bicycle fans will readily recognize this as the logo of the Zebra bicycle company.
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I'll continue this post with more on guarantee medals net time. In the meantime if any of you out there have photos of gurantee medals, or, have seen similar medals on foreign made bicycles, please send in a photo with details so I can share with other enthusiasts.  showajitensha@hotmail.co.jp 

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コメント

I continue to be impressed by the level of detail on bikes of this era. Fantastic stuff Richard!

Some months back I had made my own "Guarantee Medal"...Guaranteed from Buddah ! :)

Can be seen here:

http://www.flyingpigeonproject.org/2010/09/last-ride-in-beijing-almost.html

I think you are on to something JS. I like it because you have taken it to a higher level and your guarantee is more comprehensive as it guarantees the engine (rider) as well:)
Seriously, in the US people place religious icons in their cars. It is not uncommon to see a small statue of the Virgin Mary on a dashboard or crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror in hopes of keeping them and their car safe while "on the road".
I ask you: Why not the same for our two wheeled friends? I ran a quick search on Ebay to see if there was anything http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-BICYCLE-BELL-St-CHRISTOPHER-REICH-GERMANY-1970s-/350481957624?pt=UK_sportsleisure_cycling_bikeparts_SR&hash=item519a5a42f8

I like it. If you wanted to string your own St. Christopher medallion from the top bar, you could do that to:

http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l2736&_nkw=brass+st.+christopher+medal

Are there any religious keepsakes/good luck charms that play a similar role in Japan?

Well, you have a point. I would literally be a holy roller, (pun intended).

Actually now that you mention it, the Japanese do purchase amulets at the local Shinto shrine and one can see these displayed in their cars (safe driving), on their school backpacks (pass the entrance exams), etc. You can check them out here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omamori

These are certainly much lighter than the old guarantee medals!

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