Wheelmen Talk => General discussions on Wheelmen topics. => Topic started by: Ride the High Country on December 08, 2018, 06:31:11 AM

Title: 1893 Featherstone Prince Restored By Craig Allen
Post by: Ride the High Country on December 08, 2018, 06:31:11 AM
Several years ago, I purchased an 1893 Featherstone Prince pneumatic tyre safety bicycle. This is a juvenile model with 26-inch wheels. It was missing the mudguards and coaster pegs; and the tyres, seat leather, and chain were not original. But the bicycle was otherwise complete and in original condition, albeit with most of the nickel plating, and much of the Japan finish, lost, and a fair amount of pitting on some sections.

The bicycle was not listed as a Featherstone, because instead of a maker’s decal as usual for that firm at that time, there was a nickel-plated shield-shaped badge stating, simply, “PRINCE”. When I purchased the bicycle, I was fairly sure that it was a Featherstone product, based on the excellent bicycle brand and model cross-reference here on the Wheelmen web-site.

In 2016, I searched through 1893 bicycle journals on Archive.Org, and found advertisements from Featherstone showing their different sized bicycles—(in falling order of size) Duke, Duchess, Road King, Road Queen, Prince, Princess, Baron, Baroness, Royal Middy, and Flying Jib. The illustration of the Prince looked extremely similar to my bicycle, but not exactly the same. I then noted that both the Prince and Baron were depicted by the same illustration, so it was clearly wrong for one of the models.

With the help of the late, and greatly missed, Wheelmen librarian Ross Hill, I obtained a PDF of the 1893 Featherstone catalogue covering all models except for the Road King and Queen, which they considered their premium models and worthy of a separate catalogue. The illustration of the Prince was identical to my bicycle, so I now had a definitive identification. I later obtained an original copy of the catalogue.

The presence of the “PRINCE” shield, instead of a decal with the maker’s name, remained a puzzle. I found that Featherstone, who had recently introduced Dunlop pneumatic tyres in the U.S., were one of a few bicycle manufacturers who had exhibits at the 1893 World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where Featherstone were also located. In a contemporary article on the bicycle displays, the Featherstone exhibit was described as showing the entire “royal family”. I conjecture that my Prince was one of these show bicycles, and that all of their show bicycles had the shields instead of the decals. It would have been unnecessary for the maker’s name to be on these bicycles, because they were all part of the Featherstone exhibit.

I asked Craig Allen, a Wheelman, and widely considered the finest bicycle restorer in the U.S., if he would take on the restoration of the Prince. He agreed, and I shipped the bicycle to him. When he received it, he actually encouraged me to forego restoration, and instead preserve the bicycle by cleaning and the application of a product like Waxoyl, in the manner adopted by some collectors and riders. But I wanted the Prince restored to its former glory, and that is exactly what Craig did, to perfection. As I requested, he reinstalled as many original parts as possible, and he was able to save most of the spokes, which I found remarkable.

To say that I am delighted with Craig’s lovely restoration would be an understatement. He’s a magician, and has brought the Prince back to life!

Here are some photographs (taken under less than ideal conditions), headed by the cut from the 1893 Featherstone catalogue:
Title: Re: 1893 Featherstone Prince Restored By Craig Allen
Post by: Ed Minas on December 10, 2018, 04:01:21 PM
I agree Craig knocked it out if the park. He is a magician.  We have a Featherstone ladies bike that I am working on now. Thanks for sharing your beautiful safety.
Title: Re: 1893 Featherstone Prince Restored By Craig Allen
Post by: Ride the High Country on December 11, 2018, 12:13:36 AM
Ed, I hope that you’ll post some photographs of your Featherstone lady’s bicycle when the work is finished. There were some marvellous discussions of Featherstone history on the old Wheelmen forums.

(There must be some way to incorporate that treasure trove of information into this new forum, or to put up the old forum as an archive.)

Featherstone played a key rôle in the transition to pneumatic bicycle tyres, and introduced Dunlop tyres in the United States.

By the way, Craig fabricated the coaster pegs, exactly replicating the original style, and re-formed and re-configured the mudguards, making all of the fittings and brackets. And I think that the Garford saddle turned out magnificently.
Title: Re: 1893 Featherstone Prince Restored By Craig Allen
Post by: Ed Minas on December 12, 2018, 02:51:13 AM
I will certainly post pictures when it is completed.  Thanks for the additional information.  Craig is multi-talented.