Characteristics of a gentleman: ‘A cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life.’
– John Henry Newman (1801-1890), The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry
The question is, do you have to be a ‘gentleman’ in order to buy a Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen, one of the ultimate purchases of exquisite taste in 1918?
Or does ownership automatically confer the chivalrous title of ‘gentleman’ upon the fortunate recipient of such a machine?
1918 Golden Sunbeam for Gentlemen
Two-speed Epicyclic Gear
Tall 28″ Frame
28″ Wheels – Aluminium ‘Roman’ Rims
Original Unrestored Paintwork
Frame No 135480
All Sunbeams are an absolute pleasure to ride. That’s why they have been the most popular upmarket bicycle in British history. They were sought-after in 1918 when this machine was manufactured …and are still just as sought-after now, 99 years later.
This particular machine is tall frame size – 28″. It has been cherished throughout its life. The paintwork is original with most of its box lining retained, and transfers (decals) in good condition. I’m not sure if any parts of the paint has been touched up; if so, I assume it would have been done a long time ago as its patina seems appropriate. The two-speed epicyclic gear functions well, the steering lock is intact, it has the correct pedals etc etc. Everything on the bike is to its original specification, apart from a replacement grip cap on the left handlebar.
1915 SUNBEAM CATALOGUE
‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: A HISTORY OF MILITARY BICYCLES IN THE GREAT WAR’
As you can see in the extract below, from chapter 40 of the new book ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: A HISTORY OF MILITARY BICYCLES IN THE GREAT WAR’ which is out next month (author Colin Kirsch, published by Unicorn, ISBN 978-1-910500-52-1), in their advertisements, Sunbeam capitalised on an unfortunate event that occurred immediately post-war – the influenza epidemic of 1918/1919 actually killed more people than the World War itself. It was spread by the close proximity of commuters on buses and trains. Demand for bicycles outstripped supply with some cycle manufacturers as they adapted once more to peacetime production.