We look back on the early 1900s in black and white, so it’s not surprising if we assume all old roadster bicycles were black. But it was possible to request a different colour if you were ordering a machine from one of the most exclusive companies. John Marston Ltd offered a green Sunbeam, though there was normally a one guinea charge for the privilege.
However, in 1910 and 1911, green was the standard colour for the top-of-the-range Golden Sunbeam for Ladies, which, in 1911, when this one was built, was one of the world’s most expensive bicycles.
To compare prices of bicycles with those of a century later, an easy approximate guide is to multiply by 100. The 1910 price for this bicycle was 14 guineas – its modern equivalent is therefore around £1414. Hardly a bicycle for commuting to work, then.
With such high prices for bicycles before WW1, you can see why so many were treasured by the families of the original owners; quite a few ladies’ Sunbeams have survived. This one suffered minor neglect: the three-speed gear was missing some parts, I had to replace the handlebar grips, saddle, pedals, brake rubbers, tyres, and cord on the skirtguard (broken cord is is common). But she is now respelendent in her preservation …and, as you can see from the photos below, enjoys some quality time with her partner, a Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen likewise enamelled in green.
1911 Golden Sunbeam for Ladies
Finish: Sunbeam Green Enamel; Lined in Real Gold Leaf
Sturmey Archer Model FX Three-Speed
1910 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE
A PAIR OF GREEN SUNBEAMS
1915 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE