Bring a 1919 Window Display to Life

We scoured the Harley-Davidson Archives to identify the colorful pamphlets used to catch the attention of those passing by this dealership window.

By Harley-Davidson Museum

In its early years, Harley-Davidson printed many pamphlets with rich narratives of people who were convinced of how a motorcycle would improve their lives. From simple descriptions to short stories, these marketing materials were often supported by vivid illustrations.

Window displays, another marketing opportunity, relied on creative arrangements of products to grab the attention of passersby. Harley-Davidson® dealers were encouraged to display the colorful marketing materials alongside these life-sized exhibits.

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Milwaukee's Mueller Cycle Co. created this display in 1919

The Harley-Davidson Dealer magazine praised the Mueller dealership when they specially constructed the elevated display platform for better sidewalk visibility.

This photo shows a common window display, but there's something that might seem out of place... do you notice it?

Bicycles!

Instead of motorcycles, this display features two Harley-Davidson™ bicycles, which the company sold from 1917 to 1921. The bikes are situated with fishing gear to give the potential customer a glimpse at what enjoyable activities may await at the end of a ride.


The display also incorporated pamphlets produced by the Motor Company, each illustrating the freedom of motorcycle travel and the places it could take you. If the bicycle display didn't catch your eye, the framed ads were sure to do the trick.

Originals of these marketing flyers still exist in the Harley-Davidson Archives today. Scroll on for a sense of what stories were told and how this window display would have looked in color.

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Unfolding Nature's Charm (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Unfolding Nature's Charm

This flyer recalls the drudgery of packing into stuffy street cars or walking long miles with all your belongings in order to enjoy an outdoor activity. It illustrates the Harley-Davidson® motorcycle as a means to explore all of nature's seasons. 

"Your very surroundings will be different to you from what they ever were before. Cool shadows, rushing streams, throbbing cities, fairy-blue lakes all will fling out their best to you and your little sidecar pal will ever be at your side."

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

"I'm Going" (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

I'm Going!

This is the story of a hardworking fellow, Jones, who learns a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle is just thing to break out of the melancholy of too much work and boredom. It depicts the exciting places and activities within reach when you own a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.

"When the day is over—when the busy week is spent—let no well earned opportunity pass by to refresh your mind and body. Everyone needs recreation, and the Harley-Davidson will take you to the places where you want to go."

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Little Journeys (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Little Journeys

A pamphlet boasting the many ways travel by Harley-Davidson® motorcycle is both time efficient and cost-effective. The images depict outdoor activities within reach when you own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, such as hunting, fishing, and camping.

"Have you ever shot through space at top speed—and then a moment later sat quietly over the purring steed? If not, you have missed much. The swiftness of the wind is outdone, almost limitless power is released at your will. Distance is at your command."

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Bringing Town and Country Together (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Bringing Town and Country Together

In this story, Farmer Brown and his wife lament their lackluster Sundays—the result of needing to give their horses a rest. Befriending a couple with a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, the Browns soon acquired their own motorcycle to socialize in the city during their free time, too.

"But more than that, dear, Mrs. Tompkins says that the pleasure and rest they get out of their Harley-Davidson and sidecar just seems to give them new hearts each Sunday. After chores they are off for the day... And by Monday morning they are both ready to dig in again."

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Vacation Pals (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Vacation Pals

The Harley-Davidson® motorcycle is portrayed as a travel companion in this ad describing the call of adventure. The imagery reflects the many places you can go on vacation with a motorcycle, from mountains to countryside or city—any direction on the continent!

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Break the Invisible Bars (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

Break the Invisible Bars

This brochure starts with a cover image of a man behind bars and gives way to a serene scene of motorcycling with a slightly shortened version of the tale of Jones.

"The Truth About It All: Motorcycling furnishes independent, comfortable, interesting and economical transportation. It will enable you to go anywhere in the land at a lower cost per mile, and at a lower cost per person, than any other means."

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

--and it costs less! (1919) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum

—and it costs less!

This flyer tells the story of how a young family evaluates their current expenses with the cost efficiencies gained by having a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. Other benefits demonstrated include making you healthier and bringing more enjoyment into your everyday life.

Bicycle Window Display (1919)Harley-Davidson Museum

Marketing in the early 1900s was typically more text-heavy than today. But the compelling stories and bright visuals, paired with striking window displays, created a one-two punch that made it easy for salespeople to talk with potential customers and Harley-Davidson riders.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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