Spotted in the Village yesterday, by the Laemmle theater and Le Pain Quotidien, was this well-ridden Monark Sportster.
Monark seems to be one of those kind of confusing brands for people, including myself, attempting to do any bit of research. It appears as though the earliest company to use the name Monark (Cykelfabriken Monard AB, or Monark AB) was a Swedish manufacturer who, beginning in 1908, produced bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds. There is also a Brazilian Monark bicycle company who, according to Wikipedia, is related to the original Swedish Monark AB. In no way should any of these be confused with the Chicago Monarch bicycle company. To make matters worse, a sticker on the down tube of this Sportster clearly states "Made in England". The steerer tube lacks a distinct headbadge of any kind, but the "crown" symbol largely matches the crown I have seen on other Monark bicycles. The shield with 8-pointed star and cross (three photos down) located on the down tube I am yet to see on any other Monark photos. Anyway, even though it seems likely to be some connection between this English Monark and the Swedish Monark, I am not sure what it is.
There are some stylings and components which suggest that this bike could be as old as the 1950s, which makes it a pretty grand old dame. That basket on the front suggests that, after all its years, this bike is still capable of getting the job done.
Other than the new shiny gold bell, this bike has seen some use. With its presumed English background I can imagine the many miles it has ground out along pot-holed, hedge-lined lanes. Or maybe it has spent most of its life in the city, collecting miles along pot-holed, car lined streets. Its rusty fenders and chain guard, the coils of its saddle, do not detract from its attractiveness; it wears that fine patina like a badge of honor. The slowly uncovering saddle remind onlookers of days spent in raging storms, and cracking heat as much as it does the, undoubtedly, far more numerous pleasant ones.