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Leon Dixon-National Bicycle History Archive of America
Item# Dixon, Leon [Dixon, Leon]
Categories: Who's Who-Collectors and/or Historians of Bicycles,
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Leon Dixon is a legend among bicycle collectors. He has been referred to as the King of Classics, the Dean of Collectors and I think of him as the Professor of the Classic Bike Era (he reads the vast materials he has accumulated and retains the information). He can answer most any question about bicycles, bicycle people and bicycle companies in the classic era (1920~1965). He is the person who coined the term `classic bicycle`.
     Leon started collecting fat tire bikes and memorabilia relating to bicycles and the bicycle industry in 1953 when he acquired his first bicycle catalog. In 1955 he began actively collecting bicycles at which time he obtained a 1956 Deluxe J.C.Higgins (which he still owns today). He has amassed a huge volume of bicycles, catalogs, related papers (literature), films, photographs, memorabilia, and other bicycle stuff to the point where his collection dwarfs most other collections.
     Dixon is an award-winning writer; he has written owners manuals for cars, training programs, historical pieces, magazine & newspaper articles, brochures, advertisements, scripts, songs and more.

A few additional facts about Leon:

  • He has authored many articles for national publications including; Bicycle Dealer Showcase, Popular Mechanics, Skateboarder, Cyclist, Hemmings Motor News and more. The January-1978 Popular Mechanics article was the very first international publication to ever feature a story on classic American Balloon tire bicycles (it appeared in Spanish-language editions and was distributed worldwide). Sadly, the article was cloned and imitated several times by subsequent Popular Mechanics editors with other people`s names as bylines, but Leon`s article was the first!
  • In 1981 Leon wrote the first audio-visual presentation that included the balloon-tire classic bicycle history. It originally was a giant multi-screen slide show and was converted into a video later. It was shown to thousands of bicycle industry people at the BDS-EXPO`s in Long Beach & Philadelphia.
  • He assembled the first National Classic Bicycle Swap Meet & Show in Chicago, IL in 1981.
  • He conceived the idea of the national Classic Bicycle Club in 1981. 
  • He hosts an informative web site sharing valuable information; www.nbhaa.com (National Bicycle History Archive of America)
  • Dixon owns two Mitsubishi `Du-Jee` aluminum bicycles made shortly after the end of World War II. He also has the original `Du-Jee` Catalog.
  • Dixon was the first to display classic bicycles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum.

Leon is a soft spoken man with a head full of bicycle information. If he doesn`t have an answer in his head, he usually knows where to go to get the answer. Leon and I speak by phone and email occasionally; it is always enriching to share information and ideas with him.

Picture Gallery for this Item (click images to enlarge)

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Leon Dixon (right) accepting the Authenticity Certificate for serial #2 of a run of 500 Columbia reproduction "1952 RX-5" from Ken Howard (left), the then president of Columbia Mfg. Co. (The original bike was coded R5x). This photo was taken in the 1980's at the major USA Industry Trade Show (Interbike or the predecessor, BDS Expo). Leon provided much information to Columbia for the first and second reproduction projects and he was the person who suggested the model used in the second project. Leon has almost every Columbia and Pope catalog from 1877 on to the end, and an abundance of other Columbia papers.
Photo courtesy of Leon Dixon


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A photo of Leon Dixon aboard his rare, mint condition, 1936 Dayton Safety Streamline bicycle (less than five known to exist-and his is the nicest original). Behind him on the shelf is an original 1950's Schwinn neon electric sign that was used in Authorized Schwinn Dealership Stores. There are several other vintage classic bikes on and below the shelf. This is a photo that was used in a story published in the Los Angeles Times Newspaper in the 1980's.


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The article published in Bicycling Magazine in the 1980's about Leon Dixon. they refer to Leon as the King of Classics and the Dean of Collectors. It's a great article containing an abbreviated bio of Leon with a photo of him peeking through the frame of one of his Bowden (very rare) bicycles. The other two bikes in the photo are from Leon's huge collection of over 1000 bicycles; a 1956 JC Higgins (left, which is the first bicycle he collected & he still owns it) and a 1938 Silver King (right). Leon purchased the '56 J.C.Higgins in 1955 at the Sears Store located at Gratiot and Van Dyck streets in Detroit, MI.


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The front cover of the December 16, 1996 issue of Forbes Magazine which contains an article about Leon Dixon and his bicycle collection which included factory catalogs, brochures, posters, advertisements and photographs (and more). The article has a nice picture of Leon and a few of his over 1000 bikes.


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The lead page of the article about collections and collectors in the 1996 Forbes Magazine. Leon's portion starts on the bottom right column and continues onto the next page.


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The second page of the 1996 Forbes Magazine article which is a continuation about Leon and his collection. There is a very nice picture of Leon and a few of his over 1000 (mostly) rare bicycles.


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Three of the prewar Shelby Bicycle Sales Portfolios containing catalogs and photographs for the Dealers; 1936, 1937 & 1939. Leon also has 1938, 1940 & 1941 Portfolios.


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A view of the Shelby Bicycle Sales Portfolios open, including a Shelby Price List.


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Just a portion of the original factory correspondence files between Whizzer Motor Company and its customers. Leon's collection contains Whizzer's letters dating back to the 1930's. The green colored labels are Whizzer's original company mailing labels.


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An original letter written in the early 1940's to A.S.Boyer from George Bidwell; a famous man in the bicycle industry. Boyer wrote a column in the 1930's~1940's for Hobbies Magazine, He also had a bicycle museum in Illinois at that time.


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A binder containing a large quantity of issues of the publication Good Roads which was the official organ for the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.) in the late 1800's


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Another binder containing a large quantity of issues of the publication Good Roads which was the official organ for the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.) in the late 1800's

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