Will Bradley Bicycle Art

© SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1966, C14. 6″ X 8½”

Here are two oversized postcards with reproductions of Will Bradley’s posters  advertising Victor Bicycles made by Overman Wheel Company. These are part of a series of “Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the Century Posters in miniature by Sandy Val, New York 10022.” My cards are somewhat discolored, because I originally had them taped to my walls.

© SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1968, C46. 6″ X 9″

Both bicycles and posters were big fads in the 1890s, and they both showed a reawakening of interest in the late 1960s. Will Bradley, who was one of the top graphic artists of the 1890s, designed these Victor Bicycle posters ca. 1895. Bradley’s  graphic art was influenced both by Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles.

The second bicycle poster design shown above was also printed in Black and white.

Victor bicycles. source: New York Public Library Digital Collections. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-913a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Bradley was known for his typography as well as his illustration skills. The examples below show off some of his typography done for the Overman Wheel Co. 1899 catalog. These designs are nearly all composed of a simple type, but Bradley was also skilled in unifying decorative types with images.

Victor Bicycles, MDCCCXCIX. Catalog of the Overman Wheel Co., designed by Will Bradley. source: https://www.masshist.org/object-of-the-month/objects/will-bradley-and-the-art-of-the-bicycle-2006-07-01

The Overman Wheel Company was  forced out of business after 1899 due to cheaper bicycles flooding the market. The American cycling boom was over by 1902, when bicycle sales were reduced to a quarter of their previous peak.

Visit Sepia Saturday 383 for more bicycle inspired posts.



About postcardy

I am a longtime postcard collector who has been creating websites and blogs based on my postcard collection since 1998.
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9 Responses to Will Bradley Bicycle Art

  1. Little Nell says:

    These are pieces of art each in its own right.


  2. kristin says:

    Nice match to the prompt. I like the cards too, reminds me of some of the posters from the 1960s that took off from that kind of artistic design. I had no idea about the boom and bust of the bicycle in the early 1900s.


  3. These are some gorgeous cards and posters. They must have made fabulous wall art! Nice job on the background research to pull these all together in this post.


  4. I have always liked vintage posters and here you have given us wonderful examples of their art.


  5. Barb Rogers says:

    My favorite design is the one shown in both color and black and white. I can actually see the third person’s head in the b&w, which somehow got buried in the tones of the colored version. I continue to enjoy and love art nouveau. Thanks for letting me see new to me art!


  6. I’ve always liked Art Nouveau design for its curves and asymmetry. Almost improvisational like jazz. The way the font is integrated into the illustration makes it more than just an advertisement.


  7. Lorraine says:

    Some really nice cards chosen for this post. The designs are so interesting and I can see why you had them on your wall at some stage.


  8. alanburnett1 says:

    The posters are wonderful – I have always thought that it was a stroke of luck that what must have been one of the high spots of artistic design coincided with bikes being the new must-have product of the day. How adventurous the design – and as you rightly say – the typography was – you would be lucky to see any corporate pr executives being as adventurous today.


  9. jofeath says:

    Lovely artistic cards and right on theme too. Glad you’re showing us some more of what must be a huge collection of postcards.


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