30 October 2014

1939 Suspended By Simplex

Some of my favorite civil structures are suspension bridges.  Perhaps my taste was developed by seeing the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge--still one of my favorites (Would I feel that way if I had to pay the toll every day?)--as a child.  Of course, I also love the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the George Washington (I don't have to commute over it every day!).  The Bronx-Whitestone is also quite nice, in my opinion.

The Bronx-Whitestone opened in 1939.  Somehow it seems entirely appropriate:  There is a certain distinctive style--epitomized by that year's World's Fair in New York-- to the buildings, vehicles and much else from that year, and the bridge fits it perfectly.  It, like the exhibits at the Fair, was vaguely futuristic but harkened to the Art Deco designs that had recently been popular. 

So why am I giving you an entirely amateur history/critical analysis of the art, architecture and design of a year and a period?  Well, I recently came across a photo of a bicycle accessory.  Before I read the caption that accompanied it, something in my mind said, "This could have been made only in 1939."

And, indeed, it was.  Apparently, it was produced only during that year.  Now, given that it was made in France, the fact that production stopped probably had more to do with a certain event that started late that year than to any change in tastes.  Like so many other things that stopped because of the war, production of it never resumed.  Some things can't be picked up where they were left off.  But, in this case, I think that the real reason Simplex didn't start making it again when they got back to manufacturing derailleurs, chainrings and other components and accessories is that Simplex simply stopped making bottle cages altogether. Or so it seems.

It looks great with the rust and patina.  I can only imagine what it looked like when the steel reflected the sun and sky:  Somehow I imagine that seeing it would feel a bit like looking at one of those bridges as ripples of water flickered at its feet.

I'd bet that it made a bottle look like it was suspended from the bike--especially if it was mounted on a handlebar, as this double version of the cage probably was.


  1. The Simplex bottle holders were available in the 1940s and 1950s.
    The Speedplay site notes this https://www.flickr.com/photos/speedplaypedals/7422079762/in/set-72157626105455367
    Advert in the 1952 Brown Brothers catalogue
    I have a set on my bike

  2. Weighty--You have a set of those? I'm a little envious....

  3. yes, and I have a single bottle version to go onto another bike I have just acquired.