At 5:36 PM -0700 5/11/09, donald gillies wrote:
>3. Once upon a time after a CR dinner I saw a 1930's Jim Cunningham /
>Cyclart frame that MIGHT have been a Caminargent, but I'm not sure.
>Other than that frame, I have not only NEVER seen another Caminargent
>I have NEVER EVEN seen another frame constructed in this manner!
Most Caminargents were sold in France, so it's little wonder they don't show up in San Diego all that often! Suffice to say that if you spent some time in French collections, you'd see a good number of them. On the other hand, Schwinn Paramounts are extremely rare over there.
Even so, I am sure you have seen frames constructed in the same manner. Alans were bolted and glued together. Granted, Caminargent didn't use glue, instead relying on the octagonal shape of the tubes to prevent twisting of the tubes in the lugs. As a positive side effect, you could disassemble the frame into a bunch of tubes and lugs. (See the photo of the disassembled Caminargent in "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles.) The original travel bike, perhaps? With the Alan, I am told the disassembly can happen on its own... ;-)
I think the appeal of the Caminargent comes from a variety of reasons, including:
1. Discounting the Alan, they are unique in their appearance. How many bikes with octagonal tubes are there. On touring versions, they even have octagonal rack and fender stays!
A Barra might offer more rarity, better performance, and be more significant technically (welded aluminum that was ridden in the Tour de France), but the frames look just like old Cannondales without paint, except for the ovalized tubes. Even Barras aren't that rare, especially if you count the Garin-made production models made during the war and after, which were also sold in Britain (Fontanalloy sp?). Those have round tubes, but so do some Barras. (After the war, Barra stamped "Barra" onto the head tubes to distinguish his bikes from the Garins. He had fallen out with Garin, as you can read in Bicycle Quarterly Volume 6, No. 4, which has Barra's "memoirs" translated from Le Cycliste.)
2. The British cycling press had some very fawning reports/infomercials on Caminargents in the 1930s. These reports are available online, which creates demand, especially in the English-speaking world.
3. The Caminargent was one of the first commercially successful modern aluminum frames, even beating Barra by a few months. (Sure, there were 1800s oddities like the Luminum, but they didn't lead to modern aluminum bikes, whereas Caminargent and perhaps even more so Barra brought aluminum alloys back to the table, so to speak.)
Against Caminargent speak, among others:
1. Lack of rarity. With thousands made, and just a few production frame models, there may be enough to satisfy demand.
2. Lack of craftsmanship. Cast lugs, straight-cut tubes, it's designed for industrial assembly.
3. Lack of competition history/performance. I can find only one Caminargent ridden in competition: The one entered by Lionel Brans, and ridden by Jo Routens, in a 1930s technical trial. At least it held together and posted the highest average speed, so it can't have been all that bad. Even so, I haven't yet met a performance rider who has ridden one and liked it.
If anybody has more evidence of use in racing of Caminargents, I'd love to hear about it. The Bordeaux-Paris model was named after the great race, but I haven't seen any race results advertised. I suspect it's like all those cars named Monte Carlo or Le Mans...
In any case, I am not one to say that a Caminargent has a certain value or not. The market has decided this, for now, and that means that its value is clear.
Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com