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1904 "Rambler Bicycles" Catalog From Chicago, Illinois
1904-Dated, Vintage "Rambler Bicycles" Advertising Catalog, by Pope Manufacturing Co., Western Department, Chicago, Illinois, Choice Near Mint.
This scarce, original Turn-of-the-Century Advertising Catalog features several models of the "Rambler" Bicycle made by Pope. This 24 page catalog measures 8.5" x 5" and includes various illustrations, descriptions, specifications and prices, remaining in vivid near Mint quality. More than any other one individual, company president and founder Albert Augustus Pope (1843-1909) inspired America's love affair with the bicycle. The maker of America's first bicycle was an avid bicycle-riding enthusiast himself, and as such, Pope did much to advance the cause of improved roads for the enjoyment and safety of cyclists. Its introduction reads:

"A bicycle, like a man, to attain enduring success and an enviable reputation, must have correct principles and be susceptible to the refining influences of the master hand... a bicycle must, first of all, possess elements of strength, secured by careful selection of the best material obtainable, and a sturdy foundation upon which the refining touch of the skilled mechanic may create the artistic finished product. With such a beginning, the ingenuity of the inventor in devising new and practical improvements is applied with marvelous results. The crude material is rapidly transformed into a thing of beauty, staunch, graceful, refined, without a blemish--such is the Rambler--a bicycle among bicycles."
Pope Mfg. Co. was founded by Albert Augustus Pope in Hartford, Connecticut. The company began with the introduction of the "Columbia" High-Wheeler in 1878, said to be the first American made bicycle.

Pope bought Pierre Lallement's original patent for the bicycle, and aggressively purchased all other bicycle patents he could find, amassing a fortune by restricting the types of bicycles other American manufacturers could make while charging them royalties. He used the latest technologies in his bicycles--inventions such as ball bearings in all moving parts, and hollow steel tubes for the frame, and he spent a great deal of money promoting bicycle clubs, journals, and races. Until 1896, Pope was the leading US producer of bicycles.

Pope Manufacturing was also an innovator in the use of stamping for the production of metal parts. In 1897, Pope Manufacturing began production of an electric vehicle. By 1899, the company had produced over 500 vehicles. The Electric Vehicle division was spun off that year as the independent company Columbia Automobile Company but it was acquired by the Electric Vehicle Company by the end of the year.

Pope tried to re-enter the automobile manufacturing market in 1901 by acquiring a number of small firms, but the process was expensive and competition in the industry was heating up. Pope declared bankruptcy in 1907 and abandoned the automobile industry altogether in 1915.
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