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2018年6月10日 (日)

Fender Ornaments

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the last post I recapped how I gave life to the workshop and officially christened it “ Showa Bicycle Laboratory”.  I also mentioned that I would, from time to time, share some of the displays that are in the works. In this post we shall take a brief look at certainly one of the more playful and distinguishing features of vintage Japanese bicycles, the “fender ornament”, also known as a “mascot”
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In Japan, bicycle fender ornaments have been around for just over 100 years. Originally, they were simply tiny signboards attached to the front fender bearing the name of the model or manufacturer.Img_0431Img_0429

In the late 1930s Yamaguchi Bicycle Company introduced a streamlined rocket shaped mascot.
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Other companies followed suit. Some with similarly rocket-shaped mascots.
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But what could possibly be faster than a rocket?
A rocket with wings!

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Many mascots depicted an object or animal that represented speed, might, the company logo or any combination of these.

A sleek swift stallion.
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A mighty eagle.
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A leaping hare.
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A dove or perhaps a carrier pigeon?.
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Majestic Mt. Fuji.
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Some were true works of art.Img_0421_2

The heyday of the fender ornament was the 1950s; when the only form of affordable private transportation and local commerce was the bicycle. Gradually, with front mounted baskets, cost-cutting, Japan's shift from a bicycle-oriented society to an automobile-oriented society fender ornaments became smaller and smaller and were eventually phased out. That said, they were still around to a limited extent as late as the 1980s.

As a child growing up in the US in the 1960s I fondly recall automobiles from the previous decade proudly bearing large hood ornaments and wondered why the ones on recent models were either substantially smaller or completely nonexistent.

Today, bicycle fender ornaments are nonexistent. Automobile hood ornaments only adorn a very limited number of luxury automobiles, as these works of art are prone to theft. In fact the infamous “Spirit of Ecstasy which graces the hood of the Rolls-Royce Phantom is engineered to automatically retract automatically.

Though the bicycle fender ornament may be gone, I shall endeavor to ensure that they are never forgotten.

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