1915 Raleigh No 29 Road Racer
Frame No 501863
Original 1917 Sales Receipt!
You can read about the effects of WW1 on Raleigh Cycle Co in the above page from the 1916 Raleigh catalogue. This No 29 Road Racer provides some interesting insight into Raleigh sales during WW1 – because the frame number 501863 suggests a manufacture date of 1914/1915, while its original sales receipt shows that it was first sold in 1917. This was presumably the result of the War on manufacture and sales.
‘Inevitably, bicycle production had to be substantially reduced to cope with munitions work although the total number of employees by the end of 1915 had risen to over 2000. Most of the new workers were women, something of an innovation in the cycle industry. In order to make the bicycle side as efficient as possible it was decided to concentrate on the most popular models and drop the rest from the list. The war produced scares and rumours of all sorts and one such rumour which was quite widespread in the winter of 1916 was that Raleighs might have to give up bicycle manufacture altogether in 1917. Harold Bowden lost no time in sending out a circular to all agents saying that unless something unforeseen and totally unexpected was to happen, deliveries for 1917 would be just as reliable as they had been in 1916. In fact the bicycle side never even came close to being shut down during the war and to make up for the absence of the annual Cycle Show, which inevitably had to be abandoned for the duration, Raleighs began to put on special displays at their London showrooms to serve the same purpose.’
[The Story of the Raleigh Cycle by Gregory Houston Bowden; introductory text]
When we calculate the age of a bicycle nowadays, we can never be 100% accurate.
For example, is its stated age the date it was assembled, when it left the factory, or when it was sold?
A time lapse of two years between manufacture and sale is rare – particularly with a major company – but perhaps the discrepancy illustrated here can help us keep such fine details in perspective?
The bicycle itself is remarkably well-preserved. The transfers (decals) are worn as the result of polishing over the years. But with fabulous original paintwork and nickelled parts – only the tyres are new – this machine would not look out of place in a showroom.
ORIGINAL RECEIPT, DATED 19th May, 1917
You can see the shop receipt (top) is made out for £7 10/- with the cash receipt (above) for £7 14/- (4/- sales tax?)
The purchase price according to the 1917 catalogue description (below) is £7 10/-
I’m not sure what the receipt below is for. It’s marked ‘Sundries’ and carries the same date. Its invoice number is one after the above receipt, so presumably it’s for a different purchase.
1992 LETTER FROM RALEIGH
1917 & 1918 RALEIGH CATALOGUES
1916 RALEIGH CATALOGUE
(Thank you, Robert)