Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Indian Motocycle Logo #2

As depicted on the billhead, the logo is taken from the 1912 Indian Motocycle Catalog. I found this via my brother-in-law Tom-Tom Benson. He pointed me to a site called the Vintage Motorcyle Library, and the catalog is listed as one of the Indian related items that can be purchased on the site.

From the Indian Chief Motorcycle site: The original Indian motorcycle company was founded in 1901 in Springfield Massachusetts USA, by bicycle racer George Hendee and Swedish immigrant Oscar Hedstrom. Some people wonder why it was called the Indian Motocycle Company instead of Indian Motorcycle Company. In Italy, all motorcycles have names beginning with "moto" e.g. Moto-Guzzi, Moto-Ducati, Moto-Laverda, so perhaps Hedstrom was familiar with that. The earliest models looked like mopeds (bicycles with small single cylinder engines) and only 3 were made in 1901. Interestingly, Triumph began production the next year (1902) and Harley-Davidson the year after (1903). So the order was Indian, Triumph, Harley. Indian made 143 motorcycles in 1902.

The "Big Three" are no longer still around. The Indian was produced in the United States through 1953, but is no more.

Although it says on the logo that they have been built since 1901, what it fails to mention is that the Indian Motocycle was THE FIRST motorcycle produced in America.

I purchased two more pieces of this same paper in March and I still intend to put an Indian 4 on a piece of this paper, even if it really isn't historically accurate. The Indian 4 was first available in 1928 to Indian riders.

Michael Curnow opened a bicycle shop in Butte, Montana, at 205 South Montana Street in late 1908. I know that because the 1908 Polk's City Directory for Butte has no listing for him, whereas the 1909 directory does have a single line listing for him. In 1911 he became the Indian Motocycle dealer, and by 1913 he must have had a fairly decent business because he purchased a quarter page advertisement in the directory. I would dearly love to find a photograph of him, but so far I've come up empty.

This piece will soon be on its way out the door, as someone who saw the first piece that I did (which was pictured in the 2011 Western Heritage Artists Show program) asked me to do another.


  1. I always loved Indian Motorcycles. I liked them much better than Harley Davison. Don't remember why but that is the way it was. I think I liked the sound better. I think they looked better.

    In reply to your comment about the "c___" word...

    Reply to MrCachet...

    I have seen guys all buttoned up in their smart-fitting uniforms. They are the only armed forces people I ever saw whose right hand always included a cup of coffee.

    I have also been in their toilets which looks like a long trough with boards for seats. Water is always running from one end to the other. There must have been room for 20 guys to sit and take a crap. The problem was if you didn't know better and sat at the end then when the ship went up on a wave the water and turds splashed up all over your ass if you were on the end. That area was never occupied by a sailor.

  2. Looking forward to seeing Tom-Tom's Indian collection again in person. Amazing group of vintage iron!

    Gotta love Abe's comment! LOL!!

    See you soon -:)

  3. OK mcachets - a man who keeps showing up on other peoples' blogs I'm following. Had to check you out. Like paper? I'm impressed. Love ephemera .. walked away from two small storage units full of the stuff when I moved to Mexico. Too bad you were not around. I'll pop over and check out your blog from time to time. Take care up there in Montana .. big sky country. regards, Donna

  4. Your photo looks like something out of "Only the Shadow Knows" ... love it. Who ever took it has talent. You have a lONg blog list ... OhMy! Bird is bone ... new. Thanks. Can't get ivory any more - they won't even ship old piano keys across the border! boo hoo. Now I'm joining your merry band, Mrcachet. Have fun. Donna

  5. I'm a Harley rider...but Indian is still the classic. Great piece!