>One must remember in the 1960s the dollar was very strong against
>the French Franc. While overseas air travel was an elite activity
>French bicycles were dirt cheap by comparison; even Herse's from
>what I understand though they may have cost twice what a similar
>equipped bike of the day in country.
The Herse Demontable featured in VBQ Vol. 3, No. 3 cost a little over $ 400 new in 1974. While the original owner, a member of Graves' group, thought it was "terribly expensive," that comes to about $ 1600 in 2006 money - this for a top-of-the-line bike with all the special bits, couplers, multiple racks, custom everything. You would have been hard-pressed to spend more on an Herse, and Herse was the most expensive by far in France...
What can you buy for $ 1600 today? Note that for the French, the value hasn't changed - a modern Singer represents about 3 months salary, as it did in 1950 or 1970. It's just the exchange rates that fluctuate. Just in the last 6 years, the U.S. dollar has lost 30% against the Euro due to our budget deficit.
I once talked to a guy who bought a Cinelli Supercorsa from Spence Wolf's Cupertino Bicycle Shop in 1965, again with every option. He was a college student then, and he figured it wasn't outrageously expensive then.
When I remember how long I saved to buy a Bianchi with Campy Victory when I was a (German) college student, without the benefit of a good exchange rate... -- Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.bikequarterly.com