Category Archives: Sporting

Sink or Schwinn: Steel Parts Cabinet, ca. 1940s

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Iconic Americana brands share a number of similar characteristics: innovation, good design, value and quality. Aside from these factors, truly enduring brands become synonymous with the items they sell. Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Chevrolet, Harley-Davidson and Mobil Oil are easily identifiable, partly due to the narrative that comes rolled into the fabric of each brand; Levi’s represents comfortable work wear, Coke is a joyful experience, and Harley-Davidson equals freedom.

In 1895 the Schwinn Bicycle Company opened its doors in Chicago, a city quickly becoming the hub of cycling production in the U.S. Its founders were German-American immigrants Ignaz Schwinn, an engineer who had built bicycles in Europe, and Adolph Arnold, a meat-packer who bankrolled the business’s start. Though a bicycle boom was underway, the following years presented challenges such as the rise of the automobile in the early 1900s, the Depression of the late 1920s and the growing influx of lighter-weight British-made bicycles in the 1940s.

Nevertheless, Schwinn remained competitive, striking a balance between innovative design and low-cost production. In 1934 it released the AeroCycle, which soon became known as the Paperboy or Cruiser. It featured wide balloon tires, a push-button bell and an imitation gas tank. Competitors quickly followed suit and rushed similar models to market. Before long, this design became the standard of bicycle styling.

Marketing and merchandising were also key to the company’s success. In the 1950s, in particular, Schwinn began scaling back its agreements with department stores that were re-branding its bikes to sell in-house; instead, it encouraged bike shops to stock Schwinn products exclusively. Such retail partners also carried a selection of genuine Schwinn-made parts and accessories to complement and ensure the long life of the bicycles.

Extra-large parts cabinets like the one pictured were uncommon and generally found in larger, flagship-level stores. This item would have sat pride-of-place on a bike shop’s counter as a utilitarian piece housing various Schwinn parts according to their serial numbers. The door can be raised to allow access to the inner, flat work surface, and the divided drawers below are easy to reach. Free of dents, this chest boasts its original handles and clear, sharp graphics on both the outside and inside.

Strike You Down: Bowling Trophy Ice Bucket, ca. 1950s

Careful Bill, you wouldn't want to spill your shandy...

Better put your game face on for this cool little piece that serves its purpose aesthetically, as a trophy and practically, as a stylish ice bucket.

Regardless of whether you’re chilling a bottle of Brut or a couple of grape Crushes, this item will elevate a typical bowling night to something a little more sophisticated. The chrome globe is surprisingly free from pitting and the little gold bowling figure which stands proudly at the top is complete with no breaks.

This item is currently available for purchase at Modern Anthology.

Order in the Court: Vintage Wooden Tennis Racquet Collection, ca. 1970s

Before aluminum, before graphite, before carbon fiber and before tennis graduated to the more subdued, technologically enhanced version of the game that’s played today, there were wooden racquets.

Those, like me, who grew up in the ’70s witnessed bent-wood racquets give way to large-headed, lightweight models that increased power as well as hitting-surface area. No more was it necessary post-game to fix a frame around your wooden racquet and tighten the butterfly screws at each corner to keep the head straight and in good shape for the next on-court battle.

While the game benefits from the changes made to racquet design, there’s an unquestionable warmth and character evident in older-style pieces like those pictured: leather handles, polished wood and interesting graphics.

Pimms, anyone?

Winner Takes All: Large Loving-Cup Trophy, ca.1914

There’s been a trend in the last few years toward vintage/antique trophies—and you can see why! Sporting memorabilia has always been a hot area, and trophies are a natural extension of this. In particular, old golf trophies are on the rise price-wise.

This “loving cup” is more of a whimsical find than an investment. I was drawn to the sheer scale of this trophy, measuring a whopping 20+ inches tall. The silver plate is tired and worn (just the way I prefer it). Beautifully ornate silver details adorn the lower part of the cup; the arms and cup itself rest on a black solid-wood base.

The hedonists in my girlfriend and I make us want to appropriate this as our new Champagne bucket. Bottoms up!