The Bonhams 20th Century Decorative Arts auction in New York was topped by a stunning work by American glass artist William Morris.
Vintage J C Higgins Bicycles are a type of collectible bicycle originally sold in the United States through Sears department stores.
Brief history and description
J C Higgins was the brand name of US department store Sears line of sports goods. The line included, amongst other things, a very popular range of bicycles. The namesake ‘J C Higgins’ was based on Sears employee John Higgins, who spent his entire professional life working at Sears until his retirement in 1930; the naming of the line after him was intended as homage.
J C Higgins bicycles have become widely sought after collectors’ items, which now routinely sell for hundreds of dollars. They have a distinctive style, and are often highly coloured and exuberant in design, with a notably rounded appearance. The ‘J C Higgins’ emblem also frequently appears on the bike chain rest as an additional concession to their distinctive style.
Guide for collectors
There is currently a high demand for J.C Higgins bicycles; in mint or restored condition they can fetch several hundred dollars, whilst those in a more ‘used’ state can still reach between $100-300.
As with most other collectables, the older they are, the more valuable they are considered amongst collectors, though even a relatively worn J C Higgins bike will be of great value to fans of nostalgic Americana, though enduringly, matters such as excess rust of exterior damage will cause a significant drop in resale price.
Whilst the bicycles appear at conventional live auctions and specialist auctions, the internet is a good place to find bargains, and supply and demand has driven down the price in these places by a considerable margin. Prospective collectors would be advised to look not only to auction houses but to online auctioneers such as eBay, though they should as ever with such a purchase ensure the authenticity of a bicycle before purchasing.
J C Higgins bicycles generally come with the ‘J C Higgins’ signature on the side of them. This is a very good indicator for collectors that they are buying a genuine item. For further information on identifying and authenticating the bicycles, collectors can take a look at guides such as those available at Nostalgic.net.
Notable auction sales
The highest price paid at auction for a vintage J C Higgins bicycle is $660, for a deluxe lady’s bicycle dated from 1946. The item sold on 16th September 2011 from Sotheby’s in Chicago. In a similar price range, a 1940’s J C Higgins bicycle sold for $550 from RM Auctions on 27th June 2008.
In the middling price range, a J C Higgins ‘Streamile’ bicycle dated from the 1950’s sold for $400 from NETTE Auctions on 4th February 2012, and a J C Higgins ‘Balloon’ bicycle, also dated from the 1950’s, sold from Copake Auction on 17th April 2010 for $300.
At the lower end of the price scale, a J C Higgins men’s bicycle sold for $105 from Matthews Auctions, LLC on 25th September 2010.
The lowest price paid for a vintage J C Higgins bicycle at auction is $100, for a girls 26” ‘Flightliner’ bicycle with light, which auctioned from Kimball M. Sterling Inc. on 20th October 2006.
Main article: Bicycles
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