Collector cards (52), featuring Australian and international motorcycle riders, cardboard, Allen's, Australia, 1927-1930
This collection of fifty-two cards was produced for inclusion in the packaging of Allen's Australian-made confectionary. The cards feature Australian and international motorcycle riders of the late 1920s. Motorcycle racing in this period was as popular as football today. Thousands of fans went to watch their favourite riders perform, so it is not surprising that these cards were produced for children to collect and swap. They feature details of the various championships, time trials, hill climbs, road, track and speedway races as well as the 'All-Powers Championship'. The cards illustrate the clothing worn by the motorcyclists and the accessories they used, as well as indicating their versatility in competing in a range of events. The cards provide brief but important biographical information about the riders, whose names and achievements would otherwise have been confined to motor racing periodicals and newspapers of the day. They also illustrate the promotional advertising of the 1920s, complete with quaint jingles and slogans.
Assistant Curator, Transport
The Allen's motorcycling cards were a form of advertising cards which have been issued to promote goods and services between the 19th century to the present day. They are distributed by merchants or enclosed with products such as bread, cigarettes, coffee and chocolates. Cards often bear the sellers or product name and a pictorial representation of the service or product. In other cases the picture may be unrelated to the products. Beginning with advertisement cards, they soon progressed to numbered series ranging from 10 to 100 cards on particular themes.
During the 1920s Allen's produced at least the following sets of cards, if not more: aeroplanes 72 in a set; animals 48, Army and Navy series 18, cricketers 40+, film stars 8+, film stars first edition 72, film stars second edition 100?, footballers 54; movie star artists 26; US Naval series 52, and a wrestler series of 24 cards.
Allen's were an Australian confectionary firm established in about 1891. They had a factory in South Melbourne and the flashing Allen's confectionery sign became a night time landmark of the city. Allen's are now owned by Nestle.
History of the Development of Motorcycle racing in Australia.
On New Year's Day in 1901, Jack Green averaged 37.7 kph on his motorised tricycle, racing on a concrete cycling track at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia's first recorded motorcycle race. Motorcycling took off in popularity and there was women's club in South Australia in 1912. The speedway or dirt track form of motorcycle racing on a cinders-covered track first became popular in Australia and was spread throughout the world. By the 1930s speedway racing was as fashionable as football and cricket are today and motorcycle riders were the most highly paid sportsmen. Crowds flocked to venues such as the Sydney Speedway where they were thrilled by the speed and expertise of international and local riders. Australia reigned as a world speedway force, until the rise to dominance of British, American and New Zealand riders in the 1960s.
Charles (Charlie) Disney
Disney came from Melbourne. At the Easter 1920 meeting he won the 200 mile event on a "Daytona" Indian with the fastest time over a triangular course at Sale in Victoria. Disney raced against numerous American riders in Australia and was becoming a hometown hero until he crashed at a grass track meeting at Geelong on 20 Feburary 1925 and suffered multiple fractures to his left leg which ultimately had to be amputated. Undaunted Disney came back to racing on a grass track sidecar and later returned to Motordome sole racing. He later competed as riding mechanic in one of the early Australian Gran Prix motor races at Phillip Island.
George De Koker came from Rochester, New York, USA, he was the United States national champion hill climber on an Indian scout in 1922.
Remaley was from Portland, Maine, USA. He rode a motorcycle in his role of special deliveryman for the local post office and went on to be the US transcontinental record holder on an Indian Scout motorcycle. Remaley arrived from the United States of America in the 1920s. He attempted to regain the Sydney to Melbourne record but crashed and spent a couple of months convalescing before returning home.
Orie Steel was born in Michigan, USA, in 1897. He was an American National motorcycle hill climb champion . Prior to turning professional he won 75 medal and 78 cups for his skilful riding. He died in 1960.
Historical Information on various motorcycle manufacturers mentioned on the cards
The British motorcyle make Chater-Lea was manufactured at Letchworth, Hertfordshire, beginning in 1900. The motorcycle held world flying kilometre record in 1926 at 102.99 mph in 350 and 500cc classes.
The Douglas motorcycle was a British-made machine built from 1907 and featured opposed flat-twin engines of 350 and 500 cc. This firm produced a successful speedway racer from 1928. The heyday was in 1920s when this machine was a favourite with British riders.
The Indian firm was founded in 1901 by bicycle-racer and manufacturer George Hendree and became one of the big names in American motorcycle racing. The first production machine was in 1907. In 1920 the Scout, Powerplus and 1200cc Chief were developed.
Background about the Card Collection
According to the donor, the fifty-two collector cards came in a type of toffee made by Allen's sweets and feature photographs of Australian and international motorcycle riders of the 1920s. The cards are similar to the cigarette cards of the period and were collected and swapped by the donor and his friends at primary school. The donor had kept the cards since childhood as it was quite a feat to have acquired the entire collection.