Graceful in design, easy-running, strongly-built and beautifully finished, this bicycle is ideal for women who wish a mild form of exercise or have need of easy and economical transportation. A double curve and double braced front frame are factors of safety and strength. Chain guard, in one piece, enamelled to match frame.
– Spokane Cycle & Toy Co
Starting out making bicycles in the 1890s, Emblem Mfg Co became a motorcycle manufacturer after the turn of the century. With the success of their new line of motorcycles, in 1918 they purchased Pierce Cycle Co (previously a subsidiary of the separate Pierce-Arrow Automobile Co).
The Pierce business had initially been established in 1878 as The George N. Pierce Co, selling fridges, ice chests, birdcages and various household goods. He added children’s tricycles to his line of products around 1890, and then full-size bicycles. The best-known Pierce bicycle, from the turn of the century, combined various innovations available in the industry at that time to become the Pierce Cushion Frame Chainless. Its top version not only had a ‘cushion’ rear fork but also sprung front forks.
After the build up of the automobile side of the business, the Pierce Cycle Co became a separate concern in 1906, run by Percy Pierce. With cycle sales dropping and increasing demand for the new novelty, the motorcycle, he built up the motorcycle side of this company at the expense of the cycle development, focussing on the top end of the motorcycle market. 8500 Pierce motorcycles were believed to have been built up to 1914. However, by this time, a Ford Model T could be purchased for around $500, which hit motorcycle sales severely. The Pierce Cycle Co suffered financially as a result. It’s rumoured that Pierce had an order from a Far East country for 7000 bicycles, but could not get the investment capital to supply them. (If so, it’s likely that this was part of the attraction for Emblem to buy the business). Emblem continued to make and sell Pierce bicycles after their 1918 takeover. Whereas earlier Pierce bicycles showed the Buffalo location on their headbadges, post-1918 models gave the location as Angola (The Emblem factory).
Emblem Mfg Co was a major wholesale supplier (in America, they used the term ‘jobbers’). Their bicycles were supplied to hardware stores, department stores, bicycle shops and other cycle manufacturers, who then added their own badge. Some examples are Capitol, Erie, Greyhound and Speedwell. According to a catalogue from the Spokane Cycle & Toy Co, a ‘jobbing bicycle’ with alternative nameplate cost $37.50 while one with an Emblem badge cost $42.50.
1920s Emblem ‘Greyhound’ Young Girls’ Bicycle
(Emblem Mfg Co, Angola NY)
New Departure Coaster Brake
EMBLEM MFG CO ADVERTS 1909-1923
Above: 1909. Below: 1916
Above: 1922. Below: 1923
The ex-Steve McQueen 1915 Cyclone, pictured below, sold for $775,000 at Mercum Auctions in Las Vegas on 21st March 2015. Next to it is an Emblem motorcycle.