1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle
Offered by Auctions America, Las Vegas, January 12-14, 2012
You know a motorcycle sale is serious when you see Henderson, Cleveland and Excelsior, among the Indians, Velocettes, and vintage Harleys. But every once in a while something amazing appears in that amazing company. Take this: the 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle.
Sylvester Roper began building steam cars in the 1860s in New England (the 1860s!). He built a total of 10 vehicles before his death in 1896, two of which were motorcycles. The first motorcycle – and it very may well have been the first motorcycle – is located at the Smithsonian. The second motorcycle is the one seen here. Strangely, Roper himself died will riding it (heart attack) and it was sold to a series of museums, where it has spent most of its life. Passing between two private collectors since the 1980s, this marks the first time this historical important vehicle comes up for public sale.
“Record price” is a phrase I’ve seen associated with this bike numerous times. The current records for a motorcycle at auction is $520,000, a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer sold in 2008. We’ll see.
Update: Not Sold.