1920 Columbia Archbar Model 01

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Patent litigation between the major American cycle manufacturers took almost as much of their time and effort as building bicycles.

In America, the original patent term under the 1790 Patent Act was decided individually for each patent, but ‘not exceeding fourteen years.’ The 1836 Patent Act (5 Stat. 117, 119, 5) provided (in addition to the fourteen-year term) an extension ‘for the term of seven years from and after the expiration of the first term’ in certain circumstances. In 1861 the seven-year extension was eliminated and the term changed to seventeen years (12 Stat. 246, 249, 16) from the initial grant date.

Iver Johnson’s truss bridge frame was introduced around the turn of the century. If the 17 year patent term was applicable, then the introduction of the truss bridge frame by Columbia in 1917 may have related to the expiry of Iver Johnson’s patent.

Is it a coincidence that Iver Johnson changed their truss bridge frame design slightly at this time – the fitment between the truss and top bar was elongated – but the 1917 Columbia Archbar has the older style fitment? Perhaps the patent lapsed on the original Iver Johnson design, and that’s why Columbia was able to introduce the model at this time?

The Archbar model was obviously important to Columbia as it was heavily promoted after WW1. As you can see in the 1919 catalogue cover photo below, a Columbia Archbar was even put into a wartime setting to help its postwar sales …even though it was not made as a military model.

1920 Columbia Archbar

Model 01 set up as a Road Racer

22″ Frame

28″ Wheels

(Now sold)

This Columbia Archbar has been set up as a road racer similar to the Labor which was very popular in French cycle racing. It has a drop handlebar with wooden grips, a coaster wheelset and Ideale saddle. The paint is unrestored original. The machine is in very good all round condition and ready to ride.

Columbia did sell a road racing model, which you can see in the 1927 catalogue further down the page, but they used a normal diamond frame model rather than the archbar. My feeling is that if they had marketed bicycles in France after World War One they would have built their racer just like this.

1920s Columbia Archbar 1







1920s Columbia Archbar 2



1920s Columbia Archbar 2