Columbia Expert 1886ca 50″ Ordinary bicycle 3401-63



Columbia Expert 1886ca 50 inch Ordinary bicycle
Albert Pope started advertising imported English bicycles for sale in March 1878. His initial investment in the Pope Manufacturing Company was $3,000 (USD), or worth about $125,000 in the early 21st century. He invested about $4,000 in 1878 to import about fifty English bicycles. In May 1878, he met with George Fairfield, president of Weed Sewing Machine Company. Albert Pope was inquiring about manufacturing his own brand of bicycles, proposing a contract with Weed to build fifty bicycles at its plant in Hartford, Connecticut, on behalf of Pope Manufacturing. Pope had ridden an imported Excelsior Duplex model penny farthing to the meeting, which Fairfield inspected. At that time, sewing machines were selling poorly, so Fairfield accepted the contract. In September 1878, Weed Sewing Machine Company built the last of the fifty bikes under the first contract. Albert Pope chose the brand name Columbia for the first high-wheelers “produced” by Pope Manufacturing. These first machines, copied from the Excelsior Duplex model, were made from seventy-seven parts that were made in-house, and only the rubber tires purchased from a supplier. Pope Manufacturing sold all its bicycles from the first production run. In 1879, production and sales were around 1,000, the last year of the Excelsior Duplex copies. Pope Manufacturing was an innovator in the use of stamping for the production of metal parts and the manufacture of light and strong tubing. Until 1896, the company was the leading US producer of bicycles. (source: Wikipedia) This “Expert” comes in unrestored, “barnfind” condition. She is fitted with an 18-inch back wheel, elliptical hollow forks, grip lever spoon brake and cranks with three positions for the pedals.