1939 BSA Golden Key (New-old-stock)

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GOLD …The standard of value. It has been so for centuries, since the days of the first civilisations. It is the standard of value today – the stabiliser in changing currencies. Gold, pure gold, is nature’s greatest achievement, man cannot better it.

 – 1938 BSA ‘Gold’ catalogue extract

BSA’s ‘Golden’ bicycles were more affordable versions of BSA’s top-of-the-range ‘Opperman Special.’ The company produced a separate ‘Gold’ catalogue, keen to promote the idea of exclusivity among their more expensive machines. As you can see, below, the front cover motif features St George, who, on behalf of BSA’s customers, is valiantly fighting the dragon which was the guardian of the ‘treasure’ of BSA’s Gold range of bicycles.


1939 BSA Golden Key

21″ Frame

26″ Wheels

Lauterwasser handlebar

BSA Model 40 saddle (broken – new leather top on its way)

BSA logo on rear mudguard, hubs, freewheel sprocket, wing nuts, etc

Frame no K73317

This timewarp 1939 BSA has been ridden very few miles. My assumption is that it was purchased just before the war and the owner did not return after 1945 to enjoy it.

Its rubber cable ties had fallen apart, so I replaced them. But everything else is original on it, including items usually replaced such as cables, brake blocks and chain. The tyres are original and hold air but the sidewalls are perished; and the BSA saddle is dry and cracked. I’ve ordered a new leather top from Paul Watson in Australia and I have a new set of period tyres ready to go on.

A ‘new-old-stock’ prewar bicycle is the ultimate find for a vintage bicycle enthusiast. However… it does create a dilemma of whether to keep it as a historic display; or to add the necessary parts to share the joy the original owner would have felt riding it home after purchasing it 81 years ago.

Should I replace these parts to ride it? Leave it as a homage to all those who didn’t return after World War Two? …Or sell it along with the new saddle top and tyres so someone else can make that decision? 🙂














































PHOTOSHOOT LOCATION: Site of Blackboys Airfield (1916-1917)

I photographed the BSA on the site of an old airfield used during World War 1, before the RAF was formed. It’s now a private estate. Located in East Sussex, its designation was ‘military landing ground’ and also ’emergency landing ground’ eg for British pilots returning from France needing to divert because of problems such as bad weather. Home Defence squadrons are also likely to have used it when searching for zeppelins (German airships). Blackboys, near Uckfield, is 16 miles from the south coast and 40 miles south of London. Germany’s aerial campaign against Britain during World War 1 caused 4,743 casualties (1,394 killed and 3,349 injured) of which 2,603 occurred in London (667 killed and 1,936 injured).

The RAF was founded on 1 April 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.