Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Didn't Know that about Vindex Motorcycles

Sunday, July 20, 2014
              Sunny and hot

I Didn't Know that about Vindex Motorcycles

   I didn't post anything yesterday. I was tired from not sleeping well the night before, and I went cycling. When I came home, my wife first had a friend over, then her mother,and  then a friend with my mother-in-law. So I stayed outdoors.

   Of course, I "peeked' on my computer for something to write, and I decided to read the written description for a Vindex motorcycle. Hello! The Vindex motorcycles were modelled after a company called Henderson, and in some case specifically the Henderson Excelsior. Then I looked for actual photos of the Henderson motorcycles on Wikipedia. The Henderson motorcycles looked totally different from Harley-Davidsons, which I thought (a big mistake and misconception) all cast iron motorcycles from that era were modelled after. Si I returned to my screen captures of the toys, courtesy of Bertoia Auctions, and lo and behold, upon closer inspection,  the Vindex motorcycles were quite different!

  You have to look closely, but when you do you can see certain features that are totally different from other makers of cast iron toys from that era. First and foremost, are the 4 cylinders in a row - definitely unique to the Vindex motorcycles. Then, all the toy motorcycles are modelled with police officers on them which is not a "big deal", until you magnify the image more. Then you can see that each police officer wears a silver badge on his check, and a silver badge on the front of his cap. 

The Story of the Motorcycle

   It turns out that the Henderson Motorcycle is quite interesting. The Henderson Motorcycle Co, of Detroit, Michigan (USA) was created by 2 brothers - William G. and  Tom W.  Henderson in 1911. The brothers produced fine motorcycles up to 1917, when they sold the company to Ignaz Schwinn of bicycle fame. The production of the Henderson motorcycles moved to  Chicago, Illinois (USA) where Schwinn's Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Company existed. The company then began to market their motorcycles in Europe and Australia, and today, there are as many remaining motorcycles overseas as there are in the USA.

   Unfortunately, in 1931, with the Great Depression in the midst of things, Ignaz Schwinn called a meeting of his department heads at the Excelsior Company,  and told them simply that "Gentlemen, Today, we stop". Mr Schwinn, felt that the Depression could last as long as 8 years, so he had decided to focus all effort on his main business - bicycles. Sadly, the company closed down.*

*Description Courtesy of Wikipedia

 The Story of the Toy

   The story of Vindex choosing to select the Henderson Motorcycle Company's models in itself is also interesting. I only have 1 source of reference for the story, so If I find another source, I will add it later. The source that I found is  the

  It turned out that the Hubley Manufacturing Company has signed an exclusive contract with the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company by which only they could produce toy motorcycles. That left Vindex, a subsidiary of the National Sewing Machine Company with no choice but to look elsewhere. Like all businesses, when a company sees another company producing some new new and different, they want to also. So, Vindex arranged with the Henderson Company to produce cast iron toy Henderson Motorcycles. 

 THe toy above is called a "pull toy". A child would pull the toy with a strong attached to e the toy. At the end, where the hand would hold the string was a round ball that allowed the string to be pulled easier.

Of course, ever toy story should have a good ending, and so I decided to write a happy ending.
 I'm "softie" at heart, and always cry at sad and good-ending movies,except now at 65 years young, it's harder to cry when you are "all grown up"!

The great news is that Vindex cast iron  made some very nice toys besides the motorcycles. As with all Vindex cast iron toys, they are rare and usually receive very high final bids at auction. I'm not sure  just how many toys the Vindex Company made,but as WWII approached, production of cast iron toys stopped for the war effort.By the end of the war in 1945, 
cast iron toys were hardly being produced, if at all.

 If you ever come across a Vindex toy, buy it fast, especially if you find one  t a garage sale or local antique store. They may not be as knowledgeable as exclusive toy dealers or auctioneers. One word of advice though - don't panic and give your enthusiasm away, 
the seller or dealer might not want to sell it!

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you may be.

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