Schwinn As Its Own Spokesperson
I love books that celebrate a company’s history — I must have two dozen of them, easy! My grabbing them up has less to do with my affinity for the actual corporation, and more with how much fun they seem to be having tooting their own horn. They always capture the spirit of the times with their use of graphics, etc., and they’re so often published with lovely production values.
One of my favorite corporate chest-bangers is “50 Years Of Schwinn Built Bicycles” published in 1945. I’m not sure if it was originally released with a dust-jacket or not — I’ve never seen one — but its brown cloth cover has gilt script title lettering meant to present a special occasion. The sepia pen-and-ink illustrations throughout the volume were done by William “Wm” Mark Young (1892-1948), and meant to evoke a classic intaglio technique which Young worked in as well. Young spent most of his time in California but seemed to have several clients (Northern Trust Bank,1933-34 Century Of Progress Exposition, Magill-Weisheimer Publishing, etc.) in Chicago. Perhaps Windy City-based Schwinn became familiar with Young’s work after seeing it used regionally. Photographs and tinted photo-illustrations also fill out the tome.
Ignaz Schwinn The Elder – Happy guy !
The beginning of the illustrations, all rendered by Wm. Mark Young.
Nice northeast view of the Michigan Avenue bridge – with a curious focus on the American Furniture Mart in the center/right.
FINALLY – some color !!
Ignaz upon retirement.
3 Schwinn Head-badges from the JJSP collection. I asked Ben Bochner, a good friend in high school, if I could have the “Chicago” plate off his bike. He said yes, but regrets it to this day. . .
Anyone who grew up watching Captain Kangaroo in the morning remembers that he was the spokesman (there’s that pun again) for Schwinn.
I purposely didn’t venture into Schwinn “Sting-Ray”-land. That’s easily a post of its own…
By Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts
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