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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

The Prize: 1921

The Prize: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Times boy and bicycle." One of the winners of a Washington Times subscription-selling contest and his prize, a Mead Ranger bike. More here and here. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

 

Wow

What a handsome and dashing young man.

Now all the has to do is

- remove the kickstand (too heavy).
- throw away the light and battery (so kids with rocks and the coppers can't see you at night).
- ditch the tire pump (weight again).
- blacken the whitewalls (sissy stuff).
- bend the handlebars outward and down (just because).
- get rid of the fenders (macho mud splatters on clothes).
- paint flames on the frame (coolness factor).
- tie raccoon tail to back rack (ditto).
- buy pilot's leather helmet and goggles (if you can't pedal fast at least you can look like you are).

The real prize

is the young woman standing in the doorway. Lucky for us that the lens captured her beauty forever.

Boss Man.

He looks like a future CEO.

Headlamp

That's a very electric headlamp. I'd guess that there's a no. 6 Ignitor dry cell in that can under the top tube.

Maybe if your bike is cool enough,

your prize is standing in the doorway.

You'll Hear Him Coming

I picked one of those klaxon-style horns up decades ago at an antique store. It's heavy and requires that you put your weight on it when you blow it, but it will easily launch a sleeping cat or dog into low earth orbit. My only other bicycle noisemaker is a St. Christoper bike bell inscribed in Latin. Alas, St. Christoper has been relegated to civilian status. In the late 1950s I lusted for a chrome-plated bicycle siren that mounted on the front fork. You pulled a chain which moved the siren shaft to rub on the front tire creating a real siren wail. So realistic that the City of Detroit banned them. The second noisemaker of choice was baseball cards clothespinned to the bike tubing so the cards would flap against the spokes creating a motorbike sound, or so we thought.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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