The American Elias Howe invented the sewing machine, but in their Glasgow works (UK) they also produced bicycles. Howe made a full range of penny farthings and after 1886 also safety bicycles, often under the name ‘The New Howe’.
Their 1888 French catalog lists among others also a racer and a tangent spoked luxury model (surprisingly called the Spider, which normally refers to radial spokes).
During the years, I managed to identify two main Howe-models. The first one, built from approximately 1880-1883, had a very distinctive step. The form of the cranks is also a way to identify them. The earliest bicycles had locknut spokes (Sturmey's Handbook tells us this is still the case in 1881). Later customers could choose between direct spokes and locknut spokes (source: Catalogue 1884). Front bearings have giant oilers (lost in most of the cases) rear hub has cone or ball bearings.
This page is about the first model. The second model
(built after 1883) normally has Bown Aeolus bearings and the unique Howe patent saddle spring.
I still have doubts. How could Howe 1267 have the 'modern' upturned handlebars, which we normally see on cycles after 1882-1883? How come that Howe 1467 clearly has the rear attachment of the later Howe 'double action' spring, although the single spring has Howe inscriptions? Something must have been changed. There's still a lot to learn about Howe and as usual: we need early catalogues and original bicycles!
Some people (thanks Glynn and Stewart) contacted me with their early The Howe bicycles. And I saw one in real in the Musee de Moto et Bicyclette in Amnéville, France. But all seem to have severe damage, or they are not complete.
Look at the pictures, you will manage to identify an early Howe.
And: if you have an early Howe in good condition, send me pictures!!!
| Serial no 1489, overview|
Some parts missing
| Serial no 1267 is a 56 inch||This is a very original |
|1267 still has the original |
brass oilers, and locknut
|1489 has number on hub|
and direct spokes
|The Amnéville Howe |
has had terrible 'repair'
on front hub
|Amnéville Howe: I guess |
original rear hub
| Illustration of typical early |
| Step on 1267|
|Remains of step and hollow rear fork |
on Amnéville Howe
|Original spring on 1489|
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