Bid on Henderson’s Original ACE Drawings

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Mid-America Auctions plans to place William Henderson’s original drawings for the ACE motorcycle on the block during a Jan. 10 auction in Las Vegas.
During the World War I era, a number of early manufacturers went out of business or were bought up by stronger companies. William Henderson sold his company to a German immigrant, Ignatius Schwinn. The Henderson had a fine reputation as being America’s most luxurious, elegant, and expensive four-cylinder motorcycle. Schwinn felt he had taken ownership of the “best of the best” and added it to his Excelsior Line. Despite signing a non-compete clause, Henderson soon began plans for another bike, the ACE.
Henderson began drawing the plans for his ACE and searching for investors to help finance the new factory. Production began as soon as his non-compete expired. However, money would eventually run out, and while searching for the finances needed to complete his machine, production was moved, and even discontinued a couple of times.
On Dec. 11, 1922, while Henderson was test riding the new ACE, he was struck by a car and killed. Within weeks his assistant, Arthur Lemon, completed the final drawings, and then sold the rights to Indian Motorcycle Co. Indian produced the bike as the ACE, then Indian ACE, and finally as their own brand, the Indian Four.
Henderson’s original drawings, numbering approximately 400 pieces, disappeared from view. Lost in the files of the massive Indian Company, the Henderson Ace drawings were assumed to have been destroyed in 1953, when the original Indian went out of business. Astonishingly, the new owner, Bill Melvin, found the drawings as they were being placed in a dumpster and headed for a landfill. They had sat under layers of dust in a warehouse for years.
The ACE drawings, done on a cloth material, are each signed and dated by William Henderson and Arthur Lemon. They’re still contained in the old envelopes from the Indian factory.
The auction is to be held at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Click HERE to see the 500 vintage, classic & special interest motorcycles to be presented for auction.

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