Auction pedaling a piece of local history

June 27, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hundred-year-old spokes, a reminder of the Hub City's manufacturing history, are for sale at a memorabilia auction this weekend.

The piece is a Crawford bicycle made in 19th-century Hagerstown.

Robert S. Crawford moved his Washington, D.C., bicycle manufacturing company to Hagerstown in 1891, The Herald-Mail reported in a 2001 story.

Around 1903, Crawford sold his business to Col. Albert Pope, another Hagerstown bicycle manufacturer, who was becoming interested in making cars.

Crawford later produced automobiles in Hagerstown, too, with help from organ maker Mathias P. MÃ

Saturday, Old Town Auctions plans to sell an 1896 Crawford bicycle, one of about 1,100 pieces in this weekend's auction at Hager Hall Conference & Event Center on Dual Highway.


Many items fall in the broad categories of advertising or toys. Others are in categories of their own.

There are coin-operated machines, product posters, mechanical banks and clocks.

An 1880s cigar-store Indian carved by artist Samuel Robb recently was part of an Americana collection in New Zealand.

During Friday night's preview, the Crawford bicycle was prominently placed on a stand at the front of the hall.

Matthew Protos of Boonsboro -- who runs Old Town Auctions with his wife, Barbara -- said the bicycle belonged to someone in Clarksville, Md., who wants to focus on other collectibles.

The "step-through" ladies' bicycle appears to have many original features, including wooden wheels, foot pegs, cork hand grips and paint, according to an auction summary.

On the handlebars, it has a bell on the left side and a hand brake on the right side.

A sign reading "The Crawford Mfg. Co. -- Crawford '96 -- Hagerstown, MD. Makers" sits between the handlebars and the front wheel.

Protos said he's seen other Crawford bicycles, but they usually were repainted or missing parts.

He guessed this one might sell for $2,000 to $2,500.

Old Town Auctions has two or three large sales and two or three small sales a year.

This weekend's auction is its first at Hager Hall, which is attached to the newly renovated Clarion Hotel & Conference Center.

Some people are staying at the hotel and "room trading" -- setting up merchandise in their rooms for people to see and buy.

Ed Snowden of Niles, Ohio, said it's a popular practice at large shows.

The pieces spread out on his beds and desk included a C. Parker match safe and a cast-iron chameleon that was an advertising logo for the Sherwin-Williams paint company.

Ed DeGarbolewski of Earleville, Md., near Elkton, displayed several items in his room, too.

DeGarbolewski, a fan of toys, advertisements and salesman samples, said room trading helps attract more people to a show or auction.

Matthew Protos said he expects 300 to 400 people for the auction.

Some will bid absentee or over the phone. There will be no Internet bidding.

Barbara Protos said people have traveled from the West Coast, Nevada, New York and Massachusetts.

"When you get the good stuff, people will come," she said.

Auction details

This weekend's auction at the Hager Hall Conference & Event Center at 901 Dual Highway in Hagerstown will include an 1896 Crawford bicycle made in Hagerstown.

Saturday, when the bicycle will be sold, the auction begins at 10 a.m.

On Sunday, the auction begins at noon.

More information, including a catalogue of items, can be found at

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