Historic 1894 Roper Steam-Powered Motorcycle Expected to Set New World Record at Auction


  • Auctions America by RM presents inaugural Las Vegas Premier Motorcycle Auction, January 12 – 14, 2012
  • One of the world’s oldest motorcycles, 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle expected to establish a new world record for a motorcycle sold at auction

AUBURN, IN – October 26, 2011 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – A historic 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle is expected to establish a new world record* for a motorcycle sold at auction when it crosses the podium at Auctions America by RM’s debut Las Vegas sale, January 12 – 14, 2012.  The multi-day auction will feature an impressive docket of over 400 collector motorcycles.

The second of just two steam-powered motorcycles built by Sylvester Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts, arguably one of America’s first auto manufacturers, the 117-year-old motorcycle is regarded as one of the world’s oldest, predating early examples produced by Orient, Indian and Harley-Davidson.

“We’re delighted to have been selected to present this historic motorcycle at our inaugural Las Vegas sale in January. A significant piece of Americana, it is arguably one of the world’s most important motorcycles. We anticipate strong interest in its sale,” says Glenn Bator, Head of Auctions America by RM’s Vintage Motorcycle Division.

Based on the frame of a Columbia bicycle, the Roper Steam Motorcycle’s revolutionary design features a compact rectangular boiler, burner and grate, and a small steam engine on the right side. A water tank is located directly over the boiler, from which a smoke vent exits at a rakish angle. All controls are located on the handlebars. In keeping with the true definition of a motorcycle, it was completed without pedals.

In addition to its pioneering design, the Roper Steam Motorcycle boasts a remarkable provenance from 1894, including a known, unbroken history from new. Regularly used by Roper, it averaged a record speed of 40 miles per hour on the Dorchester Road in Boston for a measured mile in May 1896.

Following Roper’s passing, it was sold by one of his heirs to a Long Island museum and after moving through a series of other museums, formed part of two prominent private collections. The current owner acquired the historic motorcycle in 1996 and has seldom lent it for display. Most recently, it was shown at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, where it helped to celebrate the induction of Sylvester Hayward Roper, America’s first motorcyclist. Presented in its original black stove livery, the upcoming auction represents the first time it has been offered at a public sale (Estimate available upon request).

“With the only other Roper motorcycle ever built on long-term display at the Smithsonian Institution, the upcoming sale of this example presents an exclusive ownership opportunity for serious collectors,” Bator adds.

For full event details visit www.auctionsamerica.com or call Toll Free 877-906-2437.

SOURCE: Auctions America by RM