The Case of the Mysterious Mark

1941 Goeland fork

There is usually some sleuthing involved when it comes to restoring vintage bicycles.  While that is definitely one of the satisfying elements of the restoration process, there also can be dead ends leading to unsolvable mysteries.  The 1941 Goeland fork depicted above has an interesting hand drawn signature on the steerer tube.  I haven’t been able to really isolate the letters, except for the “e” and the “g” at the end of the scribe.  This kind of mark is unusual.  I have seen stamped marks on frames, forks and components, such as the builder’s marks on a 1929 Griffon that I restored a while back, shown below.

Builder’s mark on 1929 Griffon.

The little bug-like mark is, I believe, the builder’s mark, and the “9” is a mark that was on each of the components of this 1929 Griffon, which I took to be a date code.

1941 French freewheel with engraving.

The 1941 Goeland’s freewheel also has a mark that I can’t quite make out.  The freewheel has no other manufacturer’s marks or codes, just this elegant engraving on the cover plate, unlike the 1947 freewheel (from my 1947 Camille Daudon) show below, which has marks, plus a strange engraved signature on the back side of the freewheel, but no indication of the manufacturer.

Engraving at the bottom.

Or, should it go this way?

Deciphering these marks can be challenging.  Even standard marks can be hard to make out.  While I was working the wheelset of the 1941 Goeland, I needed to remove a broken nipple and rusted spoke.  Even though there is a clear manufacturer’s mark on the nipple, I still can’t make it out.

And that’s after enlisting my little magnifying glass – a relic from my parent’s gem collecting days.

The 1941 Goeland seems to be bursting with mysterious signatures.  The above photo is the bike’s hand-made spoke protector.  It has a beautifully engraved mark, shown above.  With time, and a little more patience, and perhaps some help from technology and readers of this blog, I hope to solve these mysteries.

UPDATE 4/26/17:

Reader Bruno (see comments below) has supplied the following information:  The spoke protector is a “Le Pratique”, made by Lefol, and the Daudon freewheel is a J Moyne with an unusual hand drawn engraving.  Here’s a vintage Moyne advert for reference:


6 thoughts on “The Case of the Mysterious Mark

  1. I dare say “Piece of cake” for some of the engravings Nola 😉
    Probably helps to be french !
    Your freewheel is a ” Moyne”- quite often stamped in the back – unlike most other makes.
    Your spoke protector is engraved ” Le Pratique ” and may be a Lefol product as one of its fender was bearing this name ( like a “Le Paon ” or a “Le Martele” )
    I suspect that what is on the steerer tube is the name of the customer – habit I have already seen to recognize to which bike frame the fork is destinated
    I make out something like
    ” Thoreg….” with hidden final letters because of the paint
    Finally spoke nipples often bear symbols chosen by the manufacturer.
    Will try to uncover the “riddle” of this one 😉

    • Hi Bruno, thanks for your french language insights. I do think that the Le Pratique spoke guard is a Lefol product. I am not sure about the f/w – the engraving in no way resembles “Moyne” – but the freewheel construction is certainly similar to its freewheels of that era. I am curious if you can decipher the signature on the back of the Daudon f/w.

      • Trust me -the daudon freewheel is a Moyne – the more recognizable Moyne engraving seen on others is written in the same manner with angular letters – if you spare the first character which you also see on the regular Moyne and which maybe a L – maybe the initial of the Moyne gentleman ? , I clearly see a “o”, a “y” , a “n” and a “e” – hence the first letter is to me a badly engraved m.
        About the Goeland freewheel sorry but that is too tricky – with a jeweller glass I could maybe tell you but even with your quite good picture – can’t make it out ! there have been quite a few freewheels manufacturers at that time – a bit like hub manfacturers who did not make it to the “front” commercialy and whose name or make have stayed in the “dark” !

    • I think I almost see it…but it really does differ a lot from the signatures on other Moyne f/w’s. I think the last letter is what is confusing – looks like an “s” to me but is, perhaps, an elaborately drawn “e”. Thanks, Bruno. I added an update to the post to reflect your comments and included 1950’s Moyne advert for reference.

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