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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Our New Ride: 1921

Our New Ride: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Times bicycle contest." Winners of a Mead Ranger bike for selling 30 newspaper subscriptions. National Photo Co. View full size.

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That bike

Dandy and very deluxe in its day. Plus it has a built-in light with a generator and a battery. $240 may or may not be an accurate conversion of $20 in 1921 dollars.

However, $240 today will not get you a dream bike. I'd say you'd need $500-$1000 or more to get something as juicy and impressive today, and I'm not talking about a vintage bike. Just a 2010 bike with "all the bells & whistles".

Today that might be a "trials" bike for doing tricks.

Interesting contrast

Walking away, she's quite a fashionable woman with her high heels and fancy hat. And then there's the man in his baggy suit and tattered shoes badly in need of a shine.

Half Nelson

Big Brother apparently is not "pleased as punch" with the spoils, and little brother only slightly less glum (stunned?). Little B looks like Ricky from "Ozzie and Harriet."

Nice Prize

From a few period ads, it appears that a Mead Ranger bike might fetch about $20. In today's money, that's about $240. Pretty nice prize!


All I ever got for new customers on my Detroit Times route was tickets to Tiger ballgames.

Ride a Ranger All the Year 'Round

Click to enlarge.

On the fringe

Looks very close to the bikes we had in the 50's. Just add handle bar fringe and a few playing cards in the spokes. Peewee Herman would be proud.

Wouldn't notice the difference

If you took this bike out of this time and set it in the 50's the only thing that kids would notice different, if they looked close, would be no chain guards and maybe the strange battery size and location.

Window dressing

The lady's bike in the window is something to admire too. Bikes were built for transportation back then, not just playing a sport as so many are these days. Such beautiful styling! As lovely as a retro cruiser with extras or a Pashley bike from England.


Yes, I have heard of these "newspaper" things you write of. Were they not popular before dying an inglorious death in the early twenty-first century, overcome by that intertube net thingy?

Everything except

It even has whitewall tires but, it doesn't have a chain guard.
Not a problem for those two young men.

How old are those kids?

Twelve? Thirteen? What sort of legitimate, recognized job is there that a child that age can hold today? How can they earn spending money and, possibly, transportation? And that bicycle would have enabled them to expand their route, as well, since they would have more time.

A bike like that used to hang in my grandparents' basement, in back of the furnace. It disappeared around 1980, when the basement was cleaned out of a lot of scrap wood and old metal.

Thrilled to death

Neither of them look particularly thrilled. Do you suppose they had to share the bike? Or perhaps they were wishing they had won the $60 motor bike for selling 35 subscriptions.

Hot Wheels

That is one hell of a bicycle! It has all the bells and whistles, even an oo-gah horn. That kid is living the dream.

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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