13 February 2017

An Honest-To-God Lincoln

During my childhood, yesterday--12 February--was a national holiday, commemorating the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Now  "it's not a holiday unless your boss/city/state says it is," as one of my colleagues put it.  We have another holiday--Presidents' Day--on the third Monday of every February to replace Lincoln's and George Washington's (22 February)  Birthdays as shopping days, I mean days off, I mean holidays.

I can understand a holiday for George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt and maybe even John F. Kennedy. (I say "maybe" only because JFK was in office so briefly.)  But Millard Fillmore?  Benjamin Harrison? Andrew Johnson?  Richard Nixon?

Some jurisdictions and institutions (such as the college in which I teach) still observe Lincoln's Birthday on the second Monday of every February.  So, in the spirit of the holiday--and because no store, at this moment, is running a sale on anything I actually want or need--I am going to present a Lincoln bicycle.

Actually, it has nothing to do with "Honest Abe".  The "Royal" in the name tells us as much.  Somehow I think he'd roll in his grave if anyone connected him, even if only verbally, with monarchy.

"Royal Lincoln" is named for Lincolnshire, in the English Midlands. Today it survives mainly on tourism, as it has some of the UK's best-preserved Roman and Medieval structures, and on specialized high-tech industries.  But it was one of the areas in which the Industrial Revolution was born and remained a center of British industry at the time the bike--a model called "Stonebow"--was made (1908).

At first glance, it looks more like an old Dutch city bike than anything made in England.  Nothing wrong with that.  But the details distinguish it from other bikes.

For one thing, the paint and lug work are nicely done and have held up remarkably well. Then there is this:

Probably the only saddle that even remotely resembles it is the Brooks B18.   And those pedals:

The person who wrote the entry for the bike on the museum's website has not seen another bike from that marque, and little information is available on it.  Could it have been one of those "local" brands once found all over the UK and Europe that was absorbed by a larger company--or simply ceased production, say, during World War II?

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