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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The End of the Innocence: 1941

The End of the Innocence: 1941

Caldwell, Idaho. The summer of 1941, on or around the Fourth of July. Water fountain outside the bank seen in the post above. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. Slurp.

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1937-41 Schwinn

The handlebars and rear carrier aren't stock, appears to have a Sturmey-Archer rear hub, (the Shimano rear hub had the shift cable on the other side of the bike) and the tires are Goodyear G3 airwheels. The front brake hub is worth $400-$450 in good shape today. Great photo!!!

Early 1950s Schwinn Tiger

I have an early 1950s Schwinn Tiger 2-speed that says "Aviation Corp. by Bendix." Is this equipped with the same chain guard as any other Tiger? The chain guard is missing. Is this a common equipped bike or not? How rare is it?

That a Schwinn Motorbike

That a Schwinn Motorbike the era it about right 1938-1940s That bike would sell for today around $2500 to $3500 today.
The only thing that is missing is the tank. The kids back in the day would take off the tanks and throw them away because they wanted to make there bike lighter so they could ride them faster. Boy if they only knew what there bikes would worth today. This is a wonderful picture of the past of how wholesome America was. Today if you drink water from a public fountain you would get probably get sick.
lbc-cycles of Long Beach, Ca.


That may explain why I thought the design was unusual. I don't think they sold Schwinns in my part of Canada. The big bike manufacturer up here was CCM (originally Canadian Cycle and Motor) and I recall a number of British manufacturers but I don't remember Schwinn being an option in Saskatchewan in the 1960s.

Schwinn Phantom

I owned a slightly-used Schwinn Phantom back in the mid-1960s that I bought for $30. Its heavyweight design with the spring fork was ideal for delivering my newspaper route. I wish I still had it!


The Bike

From my bike-restoring friend Rich:

We can say for sure that it is a Schwinn-built bicycle. It could be wearing any of at least 100 different badges, as Schwinn made private label bikes for hardware stores, tires stores and many other outlets. The model is called a Motorbike. It dates to around 1938-40. It has options such as front drum brake, knee-action spring fork and 2-speed New Departure shifter.

Spring Fork

This is the spring fork setup used on millions of Schwinns and other bikes over the past hundred-plus years. Still in use. Not unusual.


In fact I'm pretty sure it's a spring, making for a pretty interesting design that didn't take off. It appears as though the front fork is bolted to the column that attaches to the handlebars and then extend up to the spring. The spring is then attached to the column just above where it passes through the frame. The lower bolt acts like a pivot point, theoretically at least giving a somewhat smoother ride. I can see all sorts of ways it could go wrong though.

Spring or light?

Isn't that the headlight?

[It's a spring-thing. - Dave]


Is that a spring for suspension on the front? Cool looking bike.

Public Fountains

That fountain is familiar to me, except in my Deep South hometown in 1941 it would have had a sign reading either WHITE or COLORED. I grew up with those signs all around me and was ecstatic when they were finally taken down.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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