The exciting discovery in New England brings to light an obscure
California-made motorcycle once thought 'extinct'
Following the recent news of Bonhams' consignment of the remarkably original 1902 Rambler Model B from the Indian Motorcycle Museum, Bonhams is pleased to once again announce another headlining addition to their third annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction.
Thought to be the sole surviving example of a marque lost to time is a recently discovered, complete and original, 1905 Leo Two-Cycle made by the L.A. Mitchell Motor Company of Oakland, California.
This machine is historically significant for several reasons beyond its extreme rarity. Vehicles of California manufacture are exceedingly uncommon, Leo is thought to have been produced for just one year, 1905, and this now represents perhaps the earliest surviving example of an American two-stroke motorcycle.
Unlike many manufacturers of the day, the Leo was a purpose-built motorcycle utilising a motorcycle – not bicycle – frame. Its lightweight, compact motor demonstrates the brand's progressive vision as two-cycle engines were not commonly used in American motorcycles until after World War I. Nor was this machine simply a prototype as close examination shows evidence of many miles of use, suggesting an explicit, well-sorted product.
Discovered in the warehouse of a New England museum where it sat hidden and forgotten for decades, the 107 year-old Leo is in extraordinary condition, offering a freely-turning motor, strong compression and original components, such as spokes and rims, Thor pedals and Troxel leather saddle.
On Thursday 10th January at Bally's Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, this singular Leo will join other highly newsworthy motorcycles – such as the rare 1939 BMW Rennsport Kompressor and Steve McQueen's 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross – at Bonhams' third annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction. With its strong history of finding rare machines and achieving excellent results for pioneer and California-made motorcycles, Bonhams' event is not to be missed.
For more information on this internationally attended auction, including how to purchase a catalogue and register to bid, please visit: www.bonhams.com/vegas.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com