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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get Ready for the Weekend!

This jaunty cover image from a 1916 catalog for Indian Motorcycles shows a happily-waving young gentleman bidding his co-workers goodbye with the tagline "So Long Till Monday!" His stylish and sporty outfit, featuring leather riding gaiters and gloves, jodhpurs, and a tweed newsboy cap with goggles, provides a sharp contrast to the other more conservatively dressed employees flooding out of the office in their dress suits and straw boaters. The beautiful bright red Indian Motorcycle on the cover, with its white tires and shiny chrome accessories, was designed for racing and adventure, and attracted buyers who were interested in both recreation and practical transportation (while inspiring the envy of their friends and neighbors).

Indian Motorcycles, manufactured by the Hendee Manufacturing Company (later renamed the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company) of Springfield, Massachusetts, were the first motorcycles to be manufactured in America. The Company's co-owners, George Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedstrom, focused on technological innovations that would increase the speed and horsepower of their motorcycles, and in 1916 they released a model with a Powerplus engine. Indian Motorcycles from this era were used by the United States military during World War I, as well as by police departments across the nation.

This Indian Motorcycle catalog is part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' Trade Literature Collection, which includes more than 500,000 items documenting the history of American products, inventions, and advertising from the 19th and 20th centuries.

--Diane Shaw, Smithsonian Institution Libraries

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