1896-1898 Premier Helical Gents
Built by Premier Cycle Mfg Co, Bridgeport Conn, USA
Frame No 100083
Only the frame of this American Helical Premier is the same as the English Premier. According to Roger Armstrong, the Premier marque enthusiast, the frame number suggests 1895/96 manufacture. Probably a batch of the frames were exported in 1896 and sold over the following few years.
Roger has no information about the American Premier company, but it would appear that frames were sent to the USA for American components to be added. By this era, frames from English companies were usually exported unassembled – as tubing, lugs plus some components – in order to avoid the import tariffs in various countries.
This Premier came from a friend in America. Ironically, while this Premier was originally exported to the USA 120 years ago in parts for local assembly, I received it back in England this year in similar form, as a partial (older) restoration. An American wooden wheelset with reproduction rubber cushion tyres, ‘Chicago’ saddle and reproduction handlebar grips have been added to complete the restoration, and the bicycle is now ready to ride.
PREMIER CYCLE MANUFACTURING CO
Bridgeport, Conn, USA
1896 U.S PREMIER ADVERT
Hardly any information is available regarding the American import and assembly of Premier bicycles. However, the liquidation of the U.S Premier company involved a point of law that subsequently became a precedent in American law, and is referred to in law books (below).
PREMIER HELICAL TUBING
1896-1898 PREMIER HELICAL (AMERICA) v 1901 ‘SHAMROCK’ PREMIER HELICAL (BELFAST, N. IRELAND)
An 1897 article (below) refers to a West Coast branch being opened in Los Angeles
MUSEUM for PREMIER HELICAL & CROSS-FRAME BICYCLES
The first cross frame bicycle to be patented, in February, 1886, was manufactured by Hillman, Herbert & Cooper. It was named the Premier.