From Thursday, July 2, in the big exhibition hall of Liepāja Museum, Kūrmājas ave. 16/18, there is an exhibition dedicated to a popular means of transport “Bicycle and cycling fashion from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century”, created in collaboration with fashion historian Aleksandrs Vasiljevs and set designer, artist Anna Heinrihsoni.
According to the organizers, the exhibition will feature not only costumes and accessories from the extensive and surprisingly diverse collection of Aleksandrs Vasiljevs, but also bicycles, cycling accessories, photographs and other evidence of cycling history from the Liepāja Museum Collection, Saulkrasti Bicycle Museum, Jānis Seregre, Toms Atholda and Mārtiņš Belickis collections.
It is believed that the bicycle originated in the 19th century. It is not possible to give the status of inventor to one particular person, but already at the end of the 19th century it became a popular means of transportation and had a lasting impact on society, making people more free and mobile than ever before.
The foundations of the bicycle industry in Latvia were laid more than a hundred years ago – the Alexander Leitner factory was founded in 1886, the Johann Kronberg workshop in 1895 and the Peter Ozolnieks factory in Riga, and in 1899 the Antonišķi brothers’ workshop in Liepāja. In the first half of the 20th century, more than 70 large and small companies operated in Latvia, including Liepaja, and many thousands of workers, mechanics and other specialists were established.
The exhibition pays great attention to the Antonišķi bicycle factory “Līva” in Liepāja, which was one of the largest bicycle factories in Latvia. Brothers Teodors and Heinrihs Antonišķi created it during the economic prosperity of Liepāja.
Initially, they opened a workshop, sewing machine and bicycle shop in the basement of the corner house of Lielās and Baznīcas Street, but already in 1904, in order to increase production, the Antonišķi brothers moved all the equipment to the newly acquired premises in Līvas Square, Klaipėda Street 19/21 (the building has not survived). In 1912, the brothers’ roads parted. Teodors Antonišķis paid his brother half of the participation fee and became the sole owner of the company.
The factory “Liva” was not only engaged in the manufacture of bicycles, but also repaired typewriters and sewing machines, but in later years also repaired cars and motorcycles. In the 1930s, the bicycle brand “Līva” became known throughout Latvia. Its production capacity was up to 1000 bicycles per year.
In the late 1930s, the factory became one of the largest suppliers of bicycle parts and blanks, not only to artisan workshops, but also to other bicycle factories. Almost every year, by improving the design and improving the technology, it was able to produce even nine “Liva” and “Latvian Eagle” models at the same time. On the eve of World War II, at the end of 1939, the production of “Līva” bicycles was stopped, and its owners repatriated to Germany.
Thanks to Tomas Ērenpreiss, the grandson of the bicycle manufacturer and businessman Gustav Ērenpreiss’ brother, who renewed the production of Ērenpreiss bicycles in Riga in 2010, several historical Gustavs Ērenpreiss bicycles, wheels made in Liepāja Karosta workshops, Ērenpreis ”gears and Latvia’s first free-time sports helmet.
From 1927 to 1942, Gustav Ērenpreis manufactured bicycles and their parts. In 1940, “G. Ērenpreis bicycle factory ”was recognized as the largest and most modern bicycle factory in the Baltics. During the first free state of Latvia in Liepāja, “G.Ērenpreis original” bicycles were sold and repaired in Pauls Matīsa store, Rožu Square 5, and E.Ansons store, Graudu Street 29.
By the end of the summer of 1940, the company was producing 200,000 bicycles, and they could be purchased not only in all Latvian cities and major rural centers, but also in Estonia, Poland, Finland and even Soviet Russia, where they were in high demand due to their high quality.
Thanks to the Saulkrasti Bicycle Museum, it is possible to see bicycle bells and the bicycle of the gentlemen of the Pēteris Ozolnieks bicycle factory under the name “Grand Prix”, which the company started to make in the 1920s. Pēteris Ozolnieks’ bicycle parts, in contrast to the products of other companies, seemed relatively primitive. Although the bicycles were relatively heavy and gave the impression of an awkward vehicle, they still won the trust of the rural population with their particular strength and safety.
At the end of the 1920s, Pēteris Ozolnieks won the highest awards for stable construction and quality in several Latvian exhibitions: at the 1923 Kuldīga exhibition, bicycles were awarded the Grand Prix, and in 1926 in Jelgava, the Cross of Honor. Thanks to this success, Pēteris Ozolnieks gave the bicycles the brand name “Grand Prix”.
The real beauty of the exhibition is the restored Paul Matiss sports bicycle “Olympia” from the collection of Aldis Atholds, as well as “G. Ērenpreis bicycle factory “bicycle” G. Ērenpreis original “, bicycle” Līva “and Aleksandrs Liperts bicycle factory bicycle from Mārtiņš Beļickis collection.
German sewing machines “Pfaft” and “Stoewer”, typewriters “Continental”, as well as “Grosser” and “Walter” knitting machines could be purchased in Alexander Lipert stores not only in Liepaja, but also in Jelgava and Ventspils. Shortly before the First World War, the assembly of bicycles from the German “Wanderer” parts was started in Alexander Lipert’s bicycle workshop, Graudu Street 47. They were sold under the brand names Lippert 47 and Libawia.
After the First World War, economic activity resumed, and the company expanded its operations not only in the new store in Liepāja, Graudu Street 45, but also opened stores in Daugavpils, Valmiera, Tukums, Kuldīga, Sabile and Aizpute.
By 1938, the company had introduced a number of technological innovations, with production approaching 130 bicycles a day. Since 1939, Aleksandrs Liperts bicycle factory was one of the largest customers of parts in Liepāja War Port workshops, where the components needed for assembly, such as mudguards and KOD type freewheels, were installed in Liperta bicycles, as well as sold as spare parts in the joint stock chain.
The exhibition “Bicycle and cycling fashion from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century” will be on view at the Liepāja Museum until September 20.
Info source and more information – https://www.liepajasmuzejs.lv