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  FANTASTIC AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE PEDAL VEHICLE, WITH GREAT FOLK QUALITIES, MADE IN THE FORM OF THE FAMOUS NEW YORK EMPIRE EXPRESS, CA 1895-1910
Dimensions (inches): 30" tall x 54" long x 19" deep
Description:
FANTASTIC AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE PEDAL VEHICLE, WITH GREAT FOLK QUALITIES, MADE IN THE FORM OF THE FAMOUS NEW YORK EMPIRE EXPRESS, CA 1920:

The Empire State Express was a world famous locomotive and the 1890's flagship of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad (a predecessor of the modern New York Central Railroad). It became the world's first high-speed passenger train on September 14, 1891, when it covered the 436 miles between New York City and Buffalo in just 7 hours and 6 minutes, including stops. The train averaged 61.4 miles-per-hour, a new world speed record in rail travel, with an officially recorded top speed of 82 mph. Some observers claimed to have clocked the train at 112 mph (Source: Wikipedia).

This model of the train, in the form of a pedal vehicle, was made under the brand name "Pioneer" by the Gendron Wheel Company in Toledo, Ohio. By some accounts, Gendron wasn't producing pedal cars until the 1920's, but those who have done more extensive research on French Canadian owner Pierre Gendron and his companies, this doesn't appear to be accurate. Gendron moved from Canada to Detroit following the Civil War and, in the late 1870's, produced the first lightweight wire wheels. Their primary application was velocipedes and baby carriages. The company went under, but was reformed in the 1890's and soon began producing all manner of bicycles and children's vehicles. This pedal locomotive appears to have been a predecessor to the pedal car that followed. Given the prominent status of the train in the 1890's, and the style of the wheels, plus the tinwork and the overall construction--which looks very much to be of 1890-1910 vintage--it seems likely that this was one of Gendron's first ventures into what would become a pedal car empire. It seems unlikely that Gendron would have sought to make an old style locomotive in the 1920's, 30's, or 40's, when more modern trains would have been all the rage. Further, the vehicle doesn't look like Gendron's later work.

The form of the locomotive, with its cow-catcher, lovely wheel and pedal mechanisms, and detailed chassis, could scarcely be in a more desirable state. With untouched, dry paint surface and just enough wear to make an endearing display of its age, it is every bit as fine an example of early American folk art as it is a toy. Crossing categories like this lends a much wider appeal among serious collectors.

Condition: Some sort of hood ornament or lamp was at one time present at the front of the cylinder. Our research has so-far failed to establish precisely what this was. There are various losses, none of which will deter a folk art enthusiast. The most significant of these is metal deterioration on the left side of the left front window and paint loss along the wooden portion of the right side of the chassis.

Note: Refer to this article for a nice history of Pierre Gendron's companies: http://www.pedalcarnews.com/peter_gendron.htm
   
Primary Color: black
Earliest Date: 1895
Latest Date: 1910
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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