In this third installment on Guarantee Medals, I will address a couple of questions that I received.
(1) What are the origins of the guarantee medal?
(2) I have never seen these before. Are guarantee medals uniquely Japanese, or, can they be traced back to the eaｒliest foreign bicycle imports?
Unfortunately, I don't have the answers. Although pure speculation, and perhaps a tad far fetched, here is my theory on the origin of guarantee medals. I surmise that guarantee medals are unique to Japanese bicycles and originated from the Japanese use of emblems or crests to identify clans, shops and families (in this case similar to a coat of arms in Europe). For more on this subject see Japanese emblems and crests.
Much like the family crests which are round and bear the family's emblem or logo if you will, Japanese guarantee medals are predominantly circular and bear the company logo.
The earliest guarantee medals were circular and made from a semi-hard celluloid-like material. These appear to have later evolved to sheet metal and then later to actual medallions as seen in previous segments Guarantee Medals Part 1 and Guarantee Medals Part 2.
Here is a fine early example of a guarantee medal made from sheet metal. It bears the logo of Takeda Iron Works. Compare this if you will with examples of Japanese family crests KAMOＮ(家紋）.
On the reverse side the characters are read horizontally right to left an indicator that this guarantee medal dates back to at least the early 1940's, though I suspect much earlier.
Prior to going to sheet metal, a semi-hard celluloid-like material was used. To the best of my knowledge, these appear to be the oldest type of guarantee medals, though "guarantee tags" may be a more appropriate term.
As is the case with the guarantee medals, the reveres side of these "guarantee tags" bears the conditions of the guarantee. The Kanji (Chinese characters) are of the old style, which is proof that these celluloid guarantee tags both predate and are the ancestors of guarantee medals.
Many of these hard celluloid-like "guarantee tags", bear the names of English bicycle manufacturers, as Japan's bicycle industry started out first importing foreign brands, then repairing these imports and later manufacturing their own. This also substantiates my theory that guarantee tags predate guarantee medals.
Coventry and Praton.
Powell & Best, Very Fain
Note: In Japanese pronunciation, the word Fine would be spelled phonetically using Katakana syllabry as Fain (ファイン）. Thus, the intent was probably "Very Fine" bicycle.
Setting aside my theory, there is no doubt that guarantee medals first originated from these "guarantee tags". What I am unable to distinguish is whether these "guarantee tags" are truly unique to Japan, or, whether there was some foreign influence during the early days of foreign imports. If anyone has any knowledge please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Many of the guarantee medals, much like the bicycles they adorned, are true works of art.
Nichibei Fuji, Nichibei Fuji Senden-Go, Nichibei Fuji Hao-Go, Mitsuuma
Zebra., Noritsu, Maruishi, N.S.C Nippon Swift Corporation, Sekine,