Our well known RED HEAD ELGIN KING BICYCLE has an enviable reputation won and maintained by force of merit alone.
One of the best and most favorably known bicycles ever offered the cycling public. This bicycle steadily sold through the palmy days of cycling at $100. It was conceded to be surpassed in excellence only by the celebrated Napoleon Bicycle. Today it is second only to our Napoleon and our more recently introduced Peerless Bicycle in beauty of design and and excellence of construction. It has not only maintained the enviable reputation which its high quality won for it during the early cycling days, but has won even greater praise by the many notable features of improved construction that now mark it. Its characteristic red head is famed among cyclists everywhere and its high quality universally admitted.
– Sears & Roebuck catalogue extract
Chicago was already America’s main distribution centre. Sears & Roebuck established their company in Chicago to create the world’s largest catalogue business, expanding to provide every commodity possible. To start with, items were supplied by third-party manufacturers but, with their initial sales success, the company bought out these concerns in order to guarantee supply.
Bicycles were just one of their many lines, but eventually became their best-known. Sold by the Sears & Roebuck Department Store and through their mail order catalogues, by the 1930s the Elgin brand of bicycles had become one of America’s most prestigious marques, with fabulous innovative features.
But the Elgin started out as the ‘Elgin King,’ one of several Sears & Roebuck models in the first decade of the twentieth century, which included top sellers ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Peerless.’ The first feature applied to the Elgin King to differentiate it from other models was a red headstock and seat tube, the name duly being amended to ‘Red Head Elgin King.’
Elgin collectors consider the rare early ‘Red Head Elgin King’ a historic model. It was offered in three frame sizes, 20″, 22″ and 24″. This example is the largest 24″ frame size.
1910 Sears & Roebuck ‘Red Head Elgin King’
A VISIT TO SEARS & ROEBUCK
THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CATALOGUE BUSINESS