>Are the chainstays longer than normal for a RH?
In Sloan's bicycle book from the 1970s, a similar (the same?) Herse of Dr. Grave's is shown on p. 131. Graves was a rear loader, with panniers and a saddlebag (and a handlebar bag, but no front panniers). Funnily, Sloan captioned the photo "The correct way to distribute a load when cycle touring or camping." (For comparison, in 1948, Daniel Rebour wrote an article on the "correct way to distribute a load," suggesting front low-rider panniers for 60% of the load, with 40% on the back.)
(The bike in the Sloan photo was fully chromed and had racks and lights. The saddlebag obscured the taillight on the seat tube, but then Graves never seems to have been very mechanically inclined. Perhaps that is why he liked Rene Herse bikes, which are pretty maintenance-free and rarely break down.)
With a lot of weight on the back, a longer rear triangle makes a lot of sense. The camping bikes in our book "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles" are from France, where cyclotourists preferred to distribute the load, so rear triangles usually only were as long as needed for tire/fender/shifter clearance. And with 650B wheels instead of 700C, that isn't very long.
The e-bay bike is a different story, though, as it appears to have been built as a "sports-racer:" The lack of braze-ons for the centerpull posts, as well as for racks, fenders, etc., indicate that this always was intended as a "naked" bike. I suspect Dr. Graves specified his favorite geometry, though, as RH racers from that era had shorter chainstays. -- Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.bikequarterly.com