There's something about Harley Davidson motorcycles. It may be the sound, the look, the name, or a combination of them all. Either way, the bikes have a mystique about them, and Harley Davidson is one of the most recognized name in motorcycles. That all translates into a strong market for Harley memorabilia. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Collectibles > Expert Tip: Harley Davidson ® Memorabilia

Collecting Harley Davidson Memorabilia

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Harley Davidson: Collecting the Memorabilia

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Die-Cast Models  |  Jewelry  |  Sculpture  |  Pocket Watches & Clocks Collectible Knives & Weapons  |  Tankards  |  Porcelain Dolls  |  Plates  |  Harley Davidson Books  |  Harley Davidson Boots  |  Harley Davidson Posters   |  Harley Davidson Waterman Pens

Harley Davidson History

Harley Davidson Motor Company began in 1903 when William Harley, aged 21, and Arthur Davidson, aged 20, made their first production motorcycle . The Harley Davidson racing motorbike was built in a 10' x 15' shed in Milwaukee.  Walter Davidson, Arthur's brother, joined the guys soon afterwards.  

William Davidson joined the group in 1907 after quitting his job as a railroad foreman.  The Harley Davidson Motor Company was incorporated the same year and the stock was split between the four founders.  By this time the shed had been replaced by a new 28' x 80' factory and 18 staff were building the bikes.

Word spread rapidly of the toughness of Harley-Davidson's motorcycles as the guys built a dealer network across America.  The Harley-Davidson bikes were winning races, endurance and reliability contests and even set an economy record at 188.234 miles per gallon.

The Detroit police department took delivery of their first police motorcycle in 1908.

The famous Harley Davidson "Bar & Shield" logo was trademarked at the U.S. Patent office in 1911.

The Harley Davidson Racing Department was formed in 1913 and the team became known as the "Wrecking Crew" because of their dominance of motorcycle racing.

A pig, the team's mascot, was carried on a victory lap after each race win, thus beginning the HOG association.  Nowadays, the Harley Owners Group® is the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world with over 500,000 members. 

During World War I, the US military bought most of the new  Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the first American to enter Germany, Corporal Roy Holtz, was riding a Harley-Davidson. 

By 1920, Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world with over 2,000 dealers in 67 countries.

The guys continued their dominance of motorcycle racing, breaking numerous speed records and winning countless races and endurance contests, claiming National Championship on dirt and track. 
Twelve world-famous fuel tank emblems from the legendary Harley Davidson ® motorcycles that were breakthroughs in design and technology

The distinctive teardrop shaped gas tank was on all H-D models by 1925, setting the basic appearance for all subsequent Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

In 1931, all but two American motorcycle manufacturers remained - Harley-Davidson and Indian made by Hendee Manufacturing.  These were the only two bikes made in the USA until 1953, when Indian went out of business.

The art-deco "eagle" design was painted on all gas tanks in 1933.  H-D began these special styled motorcycles mainly to stimulate the sales in the Depression.

First Knucklehead The 1936 Harley-Davidson® EL USD$135.00
The 1936 "Knucklehead" EL with increased horsepower and bold styling was introduced.

A new land speed record of 136.183 mph was set in 1937 by Joe Petrali on a modified Harley-Davidson 61 cubic inch overhead valve-driven motorcycle.
The 1942 Harley-Davidson® WLA Military Motorcycle

When America entered World War II, Harley Davidson again produced the majority of US Military motorcycles, winning four Army-Navy "E" Awards for excellence in wartime production.  By war's end, 90,000 WLA Military Motorcycle models were produced. 

The classic black leather motorcycle jacket was first marketed by Harley-Davidson in 1947. 

During the next ten years, Harley-Davidson continued to dominate dirt and track motorbike racing and introduced various new models including the Panhead and Hydra-Glide models.

Harley-Davidson celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1953 creating a celebration logo depicting a "V" in honor of their famous engine with a bar overlaid reading "Harley-Davidson, 50 years American made."  Ironically, Indian motorcycles went out of business the same year.


Elvis on His Harley

The photo to the left appeared in 1956 showing a young star Elvis Presley on cover of the May Enthusiast magazine sitting on a current model model KH.  Click the link to buy the poster!

The following year the Sportster was introduced, becoming famous as the first of the "Superbikes."  In 1958  the Duo-Glide debuted, only to be replaced by the famous Electra-Glide in 1965.

A rarity appeared in 1960 - the Harley-Davidson Topper motor scooter, the only scooter the Motor Company ever made.

Harley-Davidson have gone from strength to strength, purchasing a half interest in Aeronatica-Macchi in 1961, 60 percent of Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company in 1962 and merging with American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF) in 1969.  By 1981 senior executives of H-D purchased Harley-Davidson Motor Company from AMF with the cry "The Eagle Soars Alone".

The Harley Davidson Motor Company listed again on the American Stock Exchange in 1986, and in the same year purchased Holiday Rambler Corporation, a manufacturer of motor homes.

Harley-Davidson bought a minority interest in the Buell Motorcycle Company in 1992 and the remaining stock in 1998.   Erik Buell created BMC to manufacture American sport motorcycles using  the Harley-Davidson XL 883 engine. 


Harley-Davidson® The Ultimate Chopper USD$135.00

Harley Davidson continue to win races and produce world class motorcycles, introducing the 1965 Electra-Glide, the Sportster line, the 1966 "Shovelhead" engine, the 1971 Super Glide, the 1977 Low Rider, the 1984 Softail, the 1990 Fat Boy, the 1991 Dyna Glide, and the 1995 Road King.  

New models of these bikes are continually introduced and loved by motorcycle aficionados the world over.  Whether its the distinctive sound, the stylised look, the many customised parts and accessories and/or the whole scene associated with Harley Davidson - there is no doubting this is the world's most popular motorcycle.


Harley Davidson
Harley Davidson
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From Amazon:

Ultimate Harley-Davidson by Hugo Wilson

Collecting Harley Davidson
by Carl Caiati

101 Harley-Davidson Performance Projects: For Evolution Big Twins and Sportsters by Kenna Love, Kip Woodring

The Complete Harley-Davidson by Tod Rafferty

Mechanics & Owners Guide to 1941-1959 Harley-Davidson O.H.V. Big Twins
by Kirk Perry

Harley-Davidson Shovelheads, 1966-1984
by Ron Wright

Accessories for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
by Marc Cook

The Classic Harley-Davidson: A Celebration of an American Icon
by Mark Williams

This Old Harley: The Ultimate Tribute to the World's Greatest Motorcycle
by Michael Dregni

Harley Davidson: Forty Collectible Postcards
Textbook Binding