Welcome to the Hercules Museum…
Hercules was a popular mythical hero in Roman times. He defeated monstrous adversaries to defend humankind as well as undertaking his famous 12 labours (a spiritual allegory of our path through life). Merchants appreciated his patronage and would donate a regular percentage of their profits to his temple.
The cover of my 1934 Hercules Cycle Magazine is a little worse for wear 75 years on (see further down the page). But the contents are still glorious. Hercules Cycle & Motor Co really pulled out all the stops for this brochure and it was undoubtedly one of the most elaborate of its kind ever produced, with styling borrowed directly from Hollywood film posters.
Despite the presentation of the Hercules range in elaborate, typically British settings, these were definitely not upmarket models. Though very well built, they were some of the cheapest bikes on the market. Remember that 1934 was the tail end of the depression and a difficult trading period.
This brochure (or ‘magazine’ as they preferred it) is all about image. With such a high volume of their cycles exported at that time, this was obviously designed to sell Hercules brand products by selling the image of Great Britain in 1934. So, for us now, browsing on our computers in the comfort of the 21st century, it offers charming insights into an era long past.
The front cover’s Hercules statue, below, with manhood removed, reminds me of old Health & Efficiency magazines.
That periodical had been in production since 1900 as a health and fitness magazine, but became completely nudist in 1932, just a year before this Hercules Cycle Magazine was produced. I assume the idea was to promote not just the healthy lifestyle of cycling, but also suggest the freedom that the bicycle represented. The page for the Hercules tandem certainly shows off the social side of cycling.
I’m not an expert, just an enthusiast who spends his spare time designing websites like this. This online museum does not provide complete coverage of the company’s product range. Instead, it’s a glimpse of past glories. I have a few Hercules bicycles, which I’ve reviewed, and a rare Hercules moped.
Nevertheless, websites are organic entities and invariably, after their initial creation, take on a life of their own. This will no doubt be an ongoing project.
I hope you enjoy browsing through our cycling history…