Heavy Pedal: Columbia/ Pope Bicycle, ca. 1940s

Given the rise of cycling as an environmentally friendly mode of transport in major cities, it’s fascinating to look back at a time when cycling was perceived to be limited to those under the legal driving age and those seeking some carefree recreational fun.

The quality of American-built bicycles is something I’ve really begun to appreciate. Not only were they built to last, but as an investment they’re generally undervalued.

The Pope Manufacturing Company was started in 1877 and produced, among other things, motorcycles and automobiles. It later became the Columbia Mfg. Co. but at one time Pope was the foremost manufacturer of bikes in the U.S.

This women’s model dates to the late 1940s and has been very well preserved. Not only is there no rust on the frame, this bike still has many of its original components. The chain guard, leather sprung seat and even the battery-operated head lamp are intact and functioning. Better still, when this bicycle was acquired, it came with a photo (dated 1952) of the bike with its original owner.

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