Sam Humber was Thomas Humber’s brother. He initially worked in the Humber factory, but left to set up his own company in March 1892, in partnership with Herbert Synyer (pictured above; and on the front of the tandem, below), who was one of the top racers of the late 1880s.
Partnerships between racers and builders was a practical business plan, and the company won races with their machines. Their 1895 advert in Cyclers’ News (Illustrated) claimed theirs to be ‘THE FASTEST MACHINE IN THE WORLD.’ Nevertheless, the company was liquidated in 1896. Another company was formed using the same name and operated until 1900.
1896 Humber Synyer Lady’s Safety
28″ Front Wheel
26″ Rear Wheel
1897 Seabrook Revolving Double Dome Chime Bell
Brooks Lady’s Model B75 Saddle
This Ladies Safety built by Sam Humber’s firm, Humber Synyer Co Ltd, is similar to the 1896 Ladies Safety illustrated in the catalogue of Humber Cycle Co Ltd, Thomas Humber’s firm.
The 1896 Humber Cycle Co catalogue illustrates (above) the ‘Ladies Safety’ with the choice of either 28″ equal wheels, or 26″ driving wheel. This bicycle features the latter option. The 28″ front wheel/ 26″ rear wheel was popular at the time on fixed wheel Ladies safeties. Raleigh and New Hudson, for example, offered similar.
The bicycle is in remarkably original condition with well-preserved (identical) company transfers on the headstock and seat tube. The only non-original item is the lamp bracket; I’m not sure of the style of the original lamp bracket as it was missing, so I fitted the re-nickeled Humber one.
The small details on this machine are works of art. Observe the front brake for example.
1896 HUMBER CYCLE CO CATALOGUE
HUMBER SYNYER & Co Ltd
Sam Humber of this firm previously worked in the Humber factory and was the brother of Thomas Humber. Herbert Synyer was the Notts Boulevard C. C. champion track cyclist. They made ‘Humber’ cycles at 5 Crocus Street, Nottingham from around 1891-1895. There was a London showroom in 1898 at 15 Victoria Street but was only then recorded as a cycle agent. The original company was founded on 22nd March 1892, and took over the International Cycle Company of 5 Crocus Street, Nottingham, which was owned by William Chappell and James Hodson.
The original nominal capital was £5,200 made up of 140 founder’s shares at £5 and 4,500 ordinary shares at £1 each. Chappell and Hodson received 60 founders shares and 500 ordinary shares. The Directors were William Chappell, James Hodson (shown as chairman in 1896), Herbert Synyer (shown as chairman in 1892), and Sam Humber. The sale included the transfer of the lease of 5 Crocus Street having a frontage of 60 feet onto Crocus Street and an area of 3,840 sq. ft. at a yearly rent of £75. Also included was all the machinery and stock which included 5 complete safety bicycles and 16 incomplete safety bicycles.
On the 29th July 1892 share capital was 75 founders shares and 1440 ordinary shares which was a long way short of the capital anticipated. In December 1892 they decided to issue 1,000 of the ordinary shares as preferential shares.
On 9th August 1894 the shares taken up were 75 Founder’s shares at £5, 1425 ordinary shares at £1, and 105 preference shares at £1, a total value of £1905, which was little better than in 1892.
We know from the 1894 list of shareholders that at that time Herbert Synyer and his wife were living at 239 Freeman Street, Grimsby, and at the same address, Humber, Synyer & Co. Ltd., were located of which Herbert Synyer was shown as manager. We know from a Grimsby directory that they were still there in 1895. We also know from a Nottingham directory of the same year that the company was still at 5 Crocus Street, Nottingham, and William Chappell was shown as Managing Director. The shop in Grimsby had a new owner and name in 1896.
At an extraordinary meeting of the company held on 30th October 1895 a resolution was passed to wind up the business because of their inability to meet their liabilities. At a meeting on 17 March 1896 there was an agreement made that the company was in voluntary liquidation and that they gave consent to a new company using the name Humber Synyer & Co. Ltd. A final paper was presented at a meeting on 27 January 1897 setting out how the winding up had been conducted and property and company disposed of.
The new company was set up on 17th March 1896, using the name Humber Synyer & Co Ltd. There was a nominal capital of 10,000 £1 shares and the directors were George Gregg (chairman), Thomas John Lawrence, James Percival Nicholson, Arthur Chapman, George Arthur Gregg, and Edward Westwick Kirk. At no time do Herbert Synyer or Sam Humber appear as directors or shareholders in the new company, but there is no current information to say whether they were employees.
On 28 July 1896, 4538 shares had been issued and there were 41 shareholders. On 22 July 1898 4528 shares were held, and there were still 41 shareholders. On the 8 July 1898 a special resolution was passed which authorised the directors to borrow up to £2,000. On 22 August 1899 an extraordinary resolution was passed to wind up the company voluntarily due to the inability to meet it’s liabilities, and to appoint a liquidator. A meeting was held on 7 December 1900 at which an account was presented showing the manner in which the winding up had been conducted and the property of the company disposed of. The company was finally dissolved by notice in the London Gazette of 3 November 1908.
[with thanks to Ray Miller’s Encyclopaedia of Cycle Manufacturers]
BROOKS LADY’S B75 SADDLE
1898 HUMBER CYCLE CO CATALOGUE
1903 HUMBER GENT’S v 1896 HUMBER SYNYER LADY’S SAFETY
57 Great Eastern St, London, EC2
P. Seabrook, an Englishman, and member of the firm of Seabrook Bros, London, England, as well as one of the most enthusiastic advocates of the automobile as produced in the United States and sold abroad, has been in this country several weeks studying local conditions. Intent upon informing himself more fully on American methods of production, he has spent a large share of his time In Detroit factories. When asked for his opinion of the future of the moderate priced American car in the foreign field and his Impression of our methods of manufacturing, Mr. Seabrook replied in part as follows:
‘England has much to learn from your methods of manufacture and yet there are many fine points in the production of automobiles in which our English factories excel. We are pleased to acknowledge the merit of your moderate priced cars and the large Importations which we have made is the best expression of our opinion of them. It Is your moderate priced roadsters and touring cars that have the strongest hold on the English market and 1 am firmly convinced that there are greater possibilities for your success in the British Isles, in the moderate priced car, than in the more expensive type. Of late, England has been very pleased with the new popular priced cars and the quality of the cars you have sent over has done much to spread the fame of your cars throughout England.
My stay in the United States has been delightful. I have enjoyed seeing your factories and meeting the men at the head of your organisations. I am now returning to England much enthused over the outlook and have some valuable ideas which I can make public at the great Olympia show to be held in London next November.’
– The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, USA, 1st September, 1918
The Seabrook advert above, for the Cycle Wizard camera manufactured by the American firm Manhattan Optical Co of New York, is from 1900; the ad below for the company’s ‘New Cathedral Chime’ bell is from 1904.