1919 Haverford Black Beauty ‘Pacer’ Arch bar


Confined to the home after a childhood accident, Anna first mentioned that she was writing Black Beauty in her journal on 6th November 1871. She wrote “I am writing the life of a horse, and getting dolls and boxes ready for Christmas”. In December 1876 she wrote, “I am getting on with my little book ‘Black Beauty’.” By this time Anna was becoming more and more crippled and spent much of her time on a sofa writing in pencil, with her mother making a copy. She wrote “I have been confined to the house and to my sofa, from time to time, when I am able, been writing what I think will turn out a little book, its special aim being to induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses”. Black Beauty was published at the end of 1877 and Anna lived just long enough to hear of its success. The book has a strong moral purpose and is said to have been instrumental in the abolition of the cruel practice of using the check rein.

Sewell’s ‘autobiography of a horse’ is estimated to have sold between 40 and 50 million copies – compared to 50 million for the entire Dickens oeuvre – since it was first published in 1877, shortly before Sewell’s death at 58. It’s the most influential anticruelty novel of all time ‘… there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham…’ (Black BeautyChapter 13, last paragraph).

With the positive associations of the ‘Black Beauty’ name, it was a good choice for a brand of bicycles. As Haverford Cycle Co explained, ‘the Black Beauty Bicycle has all the earmarks of the Thorobred.’

black beauty brochures 2

black beauty brochures

1919 Haverford Black Beauty

1919 Haverford Black Beauty Pacer

Arch Bar

22″ Frame

28″ Wheels

Frame No 165833 

This Black Beauty has bent forks …which have defied attempts at straightening them; and the wooden rear wheel is buckled. It’s a rare model and not many of these have survived in original unrestored condition, so I’ll preserve it like this rather than restoring it. The ‘Black Beauty’ transfer (decal) on the down tube is intact, but over the years it has lost its ‘y.’

1919 Haverford Black Beauty Pacer 1


black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917



1919 Black Beauty pg 1


1919 Black Beauty pg 2






black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917









black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917




1919 Haverford Black Beauty

haverford cycle co philadelphia


Arch St, Philadephia, PA

Haverford Cycle Co. Building

During the second half of the 19th century, Philadelphia was America’s second largest city and an important centre for arts, science and manufacturing. Its population was greatly boosted by immigration of Russian Jews from Ukraine: Max M Sladkin, the president of Haverford Cycle Co, was among them. Russia had expelled most of its Jews in 1742, but reacquired them after the partition of Poland; they were restricted to live in the western Russian area known as the ‘Pale of Settlement.’ In 1827, Tsar Nicholas I conscripted all male Jews over eighteen and forced them out of Kiev and Latvia into ghettos. His successor in 1856, Tsar Alexander II, introduced modest reforms, and Jewish professionals, wealthy merchants, artisans, mechanics, distillers and prostitutes were permitted to live outside the Pale by 1865. This was a positive period for Russian Jews, and many became assimilated into Russian society. Unfortunately it came to an abrupt end in 1881 with the assassination of Alexander II. Peasants from the countryside were invited to participate in pogroms against the Jews and the violence was the worst they had experienced since the 17th century. As a result, between 1880 and 1914, two million Jews emigrated to the USA, with Philadephia becoming the prime destination. (200,000 went to Great Britain and 60,000 to Palestine).

The Haverford Cycle Co was apparently established by Max M Sladkin in 1896. I’m not sure when they introduced their Black Beauty bicycle range; the earliest advert I’ve found is from December 1916 (below). The model featured is the Pacer: Iver Johnson’s patent for this ‘truss bridge’ design expired in 1917, and I don’t believe other companies sold a truss bridge bicycle until 1917.

To try and get more information, I asked at thecabe.com forum, the world’s top meeting place for American bicycle enthusiasts. According to Nick, early models (including this example) appear to have been made by the Miami Cycle Mfg Co (makers of the Racycle). Chris (Chitown) explained that ‘Haverford was a large jobber similar to Mead in that they sourced frames from multiple frame builders. Documented, known builders of Black Beauty bikes are Schwinn and HP Snyder … there is also evidence that Excelsior Cycle Co built some bicycles for Haverford.’

The Haverford Cycle Co sold Excelsior motorcycles, so a tie up with that company appears logical.

1916 dec boy's life BLACK BEAUTY






Haverford Cycle Co 448 North 10th St

ABOVE: The Haverford Cycle Co factory, at 448 North 10th St, Philadephia

The identity of this building was uncovered because of the fading legend on one of its walls: ‘THE BICYCLE WITH THE NATIONAL REPUTATION’ (painted over several times, but still visible). The 47,448 sq ft building is presumed to have been built around 1917. Records from March, 1919, state that Max M. Sladkin purchased the land at 10th and Buttonwood for the Haverford Cycle Co with the intention of developing a bicycle factory.

1919 would have been a busy time for Haverford, the end of WW1 providing some lucrative trading years for American cycle companies. However, the New York Times of 1920 carried a notice of dissolution of the company. Other records show the company going out of business in 1924.

1920 was when Max M Sladkin joined with W.G Henderson (and possibly W.J Grady, another prominent bicycle retailer) to make and sell a new four cylinder motorcycle, the ‘Ace.’

black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917









black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917



ace motor corp 1

Having sold Henderson to  Schwinn’s Excelsior Motor Mfg & Supply Co, founder William G. Henderson continued to work there until 1919, when differences of opinion regarding the design direction of Henderson motorcycles led to his resignation from Excelsior. In the fall of 1919, with the support of Max M. Sladkin of Haverford Cycle Co, Henderson started the Ace Motor Corporation. The Ace motorcycle resembled the Henderson in general form, being a longitudinal four-cylinder motorcycle with chain drive, but Henderson had to be careful not to infringe any trademarks or patents that would have been owned by Excelsior at the time. Production began in 1920, and the Ace Motor Corporation closed in 1924. The Ace achieved notable racing success.

ace motor corp

After several owners, Ace was eventually bought by Indian in 1927 and the motorcycle was marketed as the Indian Ace for one year (below).

indian ace motorcycle

black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917




miller triplex side seat haverford 3




black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917

black beuaty pacer bicycle 1917

Info and pics of BB book with thanks to – http://www.olympiabookfair.com/antiquarian-books/d/black-beautyfirst-edition-in-original-cloth/82224

Haverford catalogue thanks to Dave at www.Nostalgic.net

Russian Jewish history: Max M Sladkin mentioned in biography of his friend Elias Goldensky – http://www.academia.edu/3285377/Elias_Goldensky_Wizard_of_Photography

Modern photo of Haverford factory thanks to – http://philaphilia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/mystery-building-of-week-may-7th.html