Pictured below is Budget Bicycle Center's Swedish made American Crescent bicycle. Confused? Here is the scoop:Western Wheel Works was founded in Chicago around 1890 by Chicago Immigrant Adolf Shoeninger. His mass production practices learned from Albert Agustus Pope and Columbia bicycles helped Wheel Works keep costs down and profits high. Crescent, a brand within the Western Wheel Works, benifitted greatly from stamping instead of machining production methods. This greatly reduced the cost of manufacture, and therefore the retail price of the bikes. Because of this, Crescents became the "working man's" bicycle. There inexpensive production methods kept the company running and popular through a major economic downturn in 1893. In 1895, Crescent sold 60,000 bicycles.
The bicycle craze was just as impressive in Europe as the United States in the 1890's, and American made bicycles were held in great esteem by Europeans for their quality of craftmanship. In 1896, Agust Lindblad struck a deal with Crescent to import the brand to Sweden. The first order was for 6,000 bicycles, all of which were sold in just 6 months! Each bike sold included a free lesson in a Stockholm bicycle school. Lindblad and business partner Eli Pettersson also imported several other American bicycle brands, but Crescent proved the most successful.
Around 1908, Linblad's company, Amerikansk Cycleimport began producing bicycles under the Crescent marque in their own Stockholm factory. The circumstances of this shift in manufacturing isn't known, however the bicycles continued to thrive in the Swedish market. The company outgrew its factory quickly, moving into a larger facility in 1910 and changing its name to Velocipedfabrik Linblad whence Pettersson left the company.
Crescents proved succesful in long distance road races under the feet of Swedish riders both before and after the world wars. The brand was purchased by Monark in 1960 and continues today under the auspices of CycleEurope.
This Crescent is particulary special for a few reasons. Primarily, its condition is superbe! Its full of little details like the fender ornament featuring a girl sitting in a crescent moon. The chainguard has been cut away into a gorgeous Art Nouveau design that it mirrored in the lug work. I also find it very interesting that the bike is called an American Crescent even though it was Swedish made. Clearly, the appeal of American bicycles was such that Lindblad didn't want to emphasize its local production, or perhaps he had struck a deal with Western Wheel Works to sell them as American bikes, using the American design and paying a royalty. Whatever the case, this is an outstanding example of early European bicycle craftmanship.
The bike is on display at in the clothing room of Budget Bicycle Center's parts, service, and accessories building: 1124 Regent St. We also have a c.1940 Swedish built Crescent 3 speed bicycle on display at our new bicycles showroom at 1230 Regent St. Stop by and take a look for yourself. While you're there, take some time to enjoy the other vintage bikes on display, and don't miss all the origianl posters!