英語の記事 (Postings in English)

2021年10月15日 (金)

Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo) Part 5

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous four installments (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) we traced the origin of the kangaroo trade mark used by Maruishi Shokai on its Premier model which was first imported from Premier Cycle of Coventry, England in 1912.  But it is important to also note that even prior to this Maruishi was already importing Pierce models from the US.  Pierce Cycle Company offered innovative models like the one below equipped with rear shock absorber, front leaf spring forks and chainless drive.  

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Courtesy of Pierce-Arrow Society

This is the Pierce head badge.
Note the company slogan "Tried and True".
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Courtesy of The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum

And here is a Maruishi Pierce model badge with the same slogan "Tried and True".

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Piercetried-and-true

When it comes to selecting bicycle companies to import from, Maruishi sure knew how to pick winners.

2021年9月24日 (金)

Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo) Part 4

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo)Part 3 we saw a photo book published 95 years ago which explained that Premier Cycle of Coventry, England had been exporting bicycles to Japan since 1912.  In 1920 it established The Anglo-Japanese Cycle Mfg., Co., Ltd. (aka A.J.C.) , as its manufacturing base in Hyogo Prefecture. Thus,  A.J.C. manufactured the Premier model bicycles locally in Japan and Maruishi Shokai (Maruishi Co.) was its distributor.  

This is the kangaroo trademark used by Premier Cycle of Coventry, England. 
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(Photo property of ONLINE BICYCLE MUSEUM)

Both A.J.C (local manufactuer) and Maruishi Co. (distributor), used the kangaroo as their trademark. But, what remains a mystery is why there were so many variations in the kangaroo trademark.  

Maruishi Shokai (Maruishi Co.) Kangaroo
Head badge
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Premier-head-badge

Guarantee medal
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Fender ornament
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Upon close inspection "Premier" is misspelled Primier.
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A.J.C. Kangaroo
Head badge ①
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Head badge ②
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Guarantee medal ➀
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Guarantee medal ②
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Why the difference? It remains a mystery.
So many mysteries, so little time.

 

2021年8月27日 (金)

Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo) Part 3

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo)Part 2 we continued to examine my theory that the origin of the kangaroo trademark used by Maruishi dates back to 1884 when Hillman Herbert & Cooper, a company in Coventry England, made a dwarf ordinary and named it the Kangaroo.  In 1892 the company changed its name to Premier Cycle Co. Ltd., but retained the kangaroo as its logo.  And, we examined two Premier Cycle guarantee medals; each bearing a kangaroo trademark, the first manufactured by A.J.C. Mfg. Co., and the second by Maruishi Co.  What was A.J.C. Mfg. Co. ?  What does A.J.C. stand for and how was it related to Maruishi Co.?  I found the answers in a photo book published 95 years ago, back in 1926.  

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A.J.C. stands for The Anglo-Japanese Cycle Mfg, Co., Ltd.
(日英自轉車製造株式會社)
Premier Cycle had been exporting bicycles to Japan since 1912.
In 1920 it established The Anglo-Japanese Cycle Mfg., Co., Ltd., as a local manufacturing base in Japan. Img_2689b

The company was located in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture with a complex occupying over 4,200 square meters.
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Note the use of horse drawn wagons to transport goods.
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In 1920 the factory employed around 350 employees.
Annual production of 5,000 motorcycles and 35,000 bicylces.
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Premier model bicycles (1926)
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Thus, A.J.C manufactured the Premier model bicycles while Maruishi Shokai (Maruishi Co.) served as its distributor.
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Thanks to the information contained in the photo book, it proves my theory that the origin of the kangaroo trademark used by Maruishi dates back to 1884 when Hillman Herbert & Cooper, a company in Coventry England, made a dwarf ordinary and named it the Kangaroo. 

 

2021年7月31日 (土)

Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo) Part 2

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the previous post Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo)Part 1 we took a look at Premier Cycle Co, Ltd., which I surmise is the origin of the kangaroo trademark used by Maruishi.  As we shall see in the next couple of installments, this appears to be correct.

Here we have two very similar Premier Cycle guarantee medals.

1. Premier Cycle, manufactured by A.J.C. Mfg. Co.
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2. Premier Cycle, manufactured by Maruishi Co.
Very similar indeed, but besides the obvious shape and materials there are a couple of subtle differences.
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In the first the kangaroo is poised with its arms out in front as if boxing.
Kangaroo-1

In the second, the kangaroo is standing more upright with arms at its sides as if standing at attention.Kangaroo-2

The second also has a Greek olive wreath, also known as a kotinos.  In modern Olympic Games, medals are awarded to winners; however, in ancient Olympic Games winners were awarded a kotinos.  So the olive wreath is synonymous with champion.

Greak-olive-wreath

Keep in mind, my theory is that the origin of the kangaroo trademark dates back to 1884 when Hillman Herbert & Cooper, a company in Coventry England, made a dwarf ordinary and named it the Kangaroo.  In 1892 the company changed its name to Premier Cycle Co. Ltd., but retained the kangaroo as its logo.  Now, Maruishi Shokai's roots date back to 1907.  The company manufactured Premier models using a kangaroo as its trademark. Thus, I surmise that at some point in the early part of Maruishi's long history it likely dealt with Premier Cycle Co. Ltd., as both companies use a similar kangaroo standing erect. And, as we shall see in the next post, that point in time was when A.J.C. Mfg. Co. imported and later manufactured Premier models here in Japan.

 

2021年7月 2日 (金)

Maruishi Fender Ornament (Kangaroo)Part 1

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

As was the case in the previous two posts, "Mayam Fender Ornament" and "Moon Phoenix Fender Ornament", we shall examine another fender ornament.

Here is a Maruishi fender ornament.
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Maruishi used the kangaroo as its symbol.
Maruishi-kangaroo
 
But why a kangaroo?
I have yet to uncover creditable information on the specific reason why; however, here is my hypothesis.
In 1884 Hillman Herbert & Cooper, a company in Coventry England, made a dwarf ordinary and named it the Kangaroo. 

Kangaroodwarfsafetybicycle-property-of-o
(Photo property of ONLINE BICYCLE MUSEUM)

In 1892 the company changed its name to Premier Cycle Co. Ltd., but retained the kangaroo as its logo.  Now, Maruishi Shokai's roots date back to 1907.  The company manufactured Premier models using a kangaroo as its trademark. Thus, I surmise that at some point in the early part of Maruishi's long history it likely dealt with Premier Cycle Co., as both companies use a similar kangaroo standing erect.

14655925_323585313
1890_premier_12
(Photo property of ONLINE BICYCLE MUSEUM)

Feast your eyes on the following photos from T-san of his outstanding Maruishi Co., Premier.  Typical of the bicycles produced in Japan in the early to mid-1950s, it is literally loaded with the company's trademark, kangaroos!
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A great big thank you goes out to T-san, again, for sharing his photos with us.
If you have any information pertaining to Premier Cycle Co. Ltd., or the origin of the Maruishi kangaroo, kindly contact me 
showajitensha@hotmail.co.jp

2021年6月 4日 (金)

Moon Phoenix Fender Ornament

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。 

As mentioned in the previous postthe design of fender ornaments varied depending on the manufacturer and even from model to model

Here is a rather large, unique  and somewhat mysterious fender ornament.  
Img_0364
It reads "Tsuki-Kirin Bicycle".  In Japanese "tsuki" is "moon" and "kirin" is "giraffe" so a literal translation would be "Moon-Giraffe".  However, kirin can also refer to a Chinese mythical creature, the same one which appears on the infamous Kirin Beer label.  So, a closer translation would be "Moon-Kirin". 

Img_0367
Note in the above photo there is a crescent moon on the left and what appears to be a phoenix on the right.
Although the Chinese mythical creature does have wings and flies, it is said to be a hooved animal.
Thus, judging by these emblems, Moon-Phoenix may be a better rendition.

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On a final note, I did uncover a bicycle from the early 1950s of the same name, "Tsuki-Kirin" whose trademark is shown below, and, depicts both a moon and the Chinese mythical hooved creature.

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The above trademark makes sense. But, why the phoenix on the fender ornament? It is mystery to me, any help would be appreciated.

2021年5月 7日 (金)

Mayam Fender Ornament

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。 

 Vintage Japanese bicycles have many features, but certainly one of the most distinctive is the ever-prominent fender ornament.  The design of these emblems varied depending on the manufacturer and even from model to model as in the case of Fuji fender ornaments.  For more on these wonderful emblems click here.

Here is a recently acquired Mayam fender ornament.  
One look says it all: sleek, stylish, speedy with a touch of class.
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2021年4月10日 (土)

Saddle posts

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the 12 part series on vintage sprung leather saddles, we looked at various saddle styles, their different suspensions, some of the tools used to maintain them, and trademarks.  It is only befitting that the series be followed up with a bicycle part that directly related to the saddle but often overlooked, the saddle post.

Shown below is a typical utility cycle saddle post from the 1950s.
Basically, 2 pipes welded together which enables the saddle to be adjusted vertically and horizontally.
Although this is the predominant profile, a closer look shows minor differences.Img_0285_20210409193301

The left one has a hollow back.  The middle one has a closed back.  The right one has a closed back and the bicycle manufacturer's trademark.
 
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A closer look.
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The trademark is Mizutani.
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Compare the above simple construction with a rare style saddle post from an early 1950s Bridgestone bicycle
This design has more than twice the number of parts than the above saddle posts.
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Note the bolt that runs through the post.
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The bottom is split and the construction is similar to a handlebar expansion bolt.Img_0289

Tightening the bolt slides the two pieces in opposing directions against the inside of the seat tube thereby securing it in place.
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Finally, here is a utility cycle saddle post from the early 1970s.
Basically, one pipe bent and strengthened with a weld on the inside of the bend.
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Often overlooked, the saddle post can serve as a clue in helping to date a bicycle.  As we can see from the above, older ones are constructed from more parts and more solidly constructed. 


2021年3月13日 (土)

Vintage Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 12)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I would like to close this series on sprung leather bicycle saddles with what I look for when searching for vintage Japanese bicycle saddles.  In the first half of this series Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 1), (Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4), (Part 5) and (Part 6) we took a look at various leather saddle styles from the 1950s: (800 series)(750 series), (900 series)(500 series), (600 series) and (1300 series) respectively.

Based purely on my experience, the golden age of leather saddles appears to coincide with that of bicycles themselves which peaked in the 1950s

1. Stamps
I look for how many times the trademark appears on the saddle.  In the golden-age of rod brake bicycles, manufacturers stamped their trademark into the leather three times (both sides and top)

(1) Left side stamp
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(2) Right side stamp
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(3) Top stamp
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2. Rear plate
I also look for a plate riveted to the rear of the saddle.    
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3.  Leather
Just like humans, saddles tend to form wrinkles (cracks) as they age, and, the leather loses its resiliency tending to sag.

(1) Check for surface cracks.
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(2) Check for cracks around the rivets, especially in the nose.  This is true regardless of whether the saddle is used or NOS (New Old Stock).
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(3) Check for sagging on the sides.  One can stretch the saddle with the adjusting bolt on the frame nose, or give it a "tummy tuck" (⇐link only in Japanese but photos tell the story).

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(4) Check for scuff marks or fading.  These can typically be taken care of with shoe polish and elbow grease as seen in a previous post.
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4. JIS mark
Inspect for a JIS mark.  A JIS mark on saddles became the standard in 1958.  No JIS mark is actually a good sign as it may indicate that the saddle was produced sometime prior to 1958. 

It may appear on the rear plate. 
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Or, the word itself JIS may appear on the underside of the saddle.
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5. Frame
Check the frame for rust, damage, irregular bends, and paint or chrome peeling.


6. Manufacturer
Saddles from the 1950s predominantly bore the bicycle manufacturer's trademark or logo.  The actual saddle manufacturer is sometimes indicated on the underside.  

K.K.K. stood for Kashima Saddle Mfg. (now Kashimax, Japan's only remaining saddle manufacturer) Img_0166

Fujita Saddle Mfg., Co., Ltd.
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I will close this series as I originally started it back in Part 1.  I admit it.  I am old-fashioned. I make a conscious effort to appreciate the simple things and not allow myself to be carried away by mass marketing and conspicuous consumption.  I like simple things that are made well from genuine materials, work well and with care will last a long, long time.  Preferably a lifetime.  I like the fact that, if you take care of "something", that "something" will take care of you.  Sprung leather saddles are a good example.  Leather is great, much like a fine pair of leather shoes, boots,  or a high-quality leather baseball glove, through repeated use they literally mold or conform to one's individual physique for a truly perfect fit.  If one takes care of the leather, the saddle will provide long-lasting comfort.

 

2021年2月13日 (土)

Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 11)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the first six posts, Sprung Leather Bicycle Saddles (Part 1), (Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4), (Part 5) and (Part 6) we took a look at various leather saddle styles from the 1950's: (800 series)(750 series), (900 series)(500 series), (600 series) and (1300 series) respectively.  And, in the previous four posts (Part 7) , (Part 8) , (Part 9) and (Part 10) we looked at tools used to maintain sprung leather saddles, specifically the "hammock saddle stretcher", "saddle spring spreader" , "saddle box end wrench" and the "saddle nut transfer spanner".

In this installment we shall take a look at a dual purpose tool.

As shown in the illustrations below, the top half is a brake lever nut spanner, and, the bottom half is an "alligator saddle nut spanner".
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Here is the dual purpose tool.
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Made by Hataya Tool Co.
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Again, the top half used for brake lever nuts as we shall see in detail in a future post. 
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And, the bottom half, is an "alligator saddle nut spanner".
Let's take a closer look.
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The alligator mouth-like opening is designed to accommodate assorted nut sizes.
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The tool has a flat thin profile enabling it to easily fit in between the narrow spring coils.
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Compared to the "saddle box end wrench" this "alligator saddle nut spanner" is a one-size fits all tool, no need to worry about what size the nuts are.
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Simply slide it in between the coils until the teeth make contact with the nut.
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The teeth instantly bite the corners of the applicable nut; thereby preventing any chance of slipping.
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With its thin flat profile, and, unique alligator mouth-like opening which eliminates the need to match spanner size with the size of the nut, the "alligator saddle nut spanner" greatly facilitates loosening and tightening saddle nuts. 
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Definitely a handy little tool to have when disassembling and reassembling saddles.

 

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