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On October 22, 1895 Ignaz Schwinn, with his financial partner Adolph Arnold, incorporated "Arnold, Schwinn & Company". Within a few short years of its creation, the company became an acknowledged technical and quality leader of the American bicycle industry.

In the 1890's, bicycles were a fashionable but expensive mode of transportation for adults. Arnold, Schwinn & Co. originally produced standard light adult models weighing 19 to 24 pounds and were priced from $100 to $150.

From the 1920's until 1938 Arnold, Schwinn & Co. became primarily a producer of heavy-duty juvenile bicycles.

In 1938, most likely in response to European competition, Arnold, Schwinn & Co. reintroduced fine, lightweight adult bicycles to its product line. The three new models were the Paramount, the Superior, and the New World.

The Schwinn Paramount, Superior and New World were built by hand in a separate area of the Chicago factory called the "handbuild shop." The Paramount, with its lugged frame of Reynolds or Accles and Pollock tubing, was the top of the line. The Superior and New World were the second line of Schwinn bicycles, with in a more intermediate price range. Unlike the Paramount, however, Superior and New World framesets were not lugged but fillet brazed of seamless chrome molybdenum tubing. (The author does not know why lugs were not used for these frames. Perhaps in those days manufacturing lugs was more expensive than hand brazing.)

Schwinn's practice of offering this style of bicycle as its second-highest models continued until 1978. During the 41-year span there were a variety of Schwinn fillet-brazed models, but details of early models are difficult to trace.

Now more than 100 years later, Schwinn has become an American icon and built some of the best-known and best-loved bicycles of all time. Vintage Schwinn Sting Rays choppers are very popular nowadays.

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Updated: 1 Dec. 2015

Schwinn value

What's it worth? Take a look at this Schwinn price guide: sold listings for a value indication.

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