The Duesenberg brothers – more than just a couple of mugs from Germany In their Dec. 8-10 auction, Morphy's will ofer a pair of turn of the 20th century shaving mugs that belonged to brothers Fred and August Duesenberg, inventors of the swank Duesenberg automobile.
News-Antique.com - Nov 07,2011 - DENVER, Pa. – In terms of automotive engineering quality, luxury and speed, the Duesenberg – or “Duesy” – led the pack a century ago. In 1919, a mere six years after the Duesenberg company was founded, a Duesy made headlines when it broke the world land speed record by topping out at 158 m.p.h. The Duesenberg company’s stellar accomplishments also included producing the only French Grand Prix winner driven by an American (in 1921), and the winning car in the Indy 500 in 1924, 1925 and 1927.
Entirely hand made, Duesenbergs were the crème de la crème of early 20th century automobiles, each a magnificent reflection of the master engineers who founded the Duesenberg auto works – German-born brothers Frederick and August Duesenberg. When Ford came out with its 65 h.p. V8 engine, the Duesenbergs already a motor that was 325 h.p. Between 1928 and 1937, only 481 Duesenbergs were made, hence their rarity today.
In their day, Duesenbergs were status symbols, driven by the noble, rich and famous – and they still are. But few who are privileged enough to slip behind the wheel of an elegant Duesy – including Jay Leno, who owns nine – may know that the Duesenberg brothers started out as bicycle designers.
Frederick Duesenberg started racing bikes in the 1890s, when the bicycle craze hit. He even won the Iowa State Championship. With the advent of automobiles, Fred seized the opportunity and took his bicycle tools and engineering know-how to establish a new business in Des Moines with brother “Augie” – the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc.
Duesenberg automobiles are revered by collectors, who share historical information via classic car collector clubs, but few personal artifacts have ever turned up from the Duesenberg brothers’ bicycle era.
In their Dec. 8-10 sale, the Pennsylvania auction house Morphy’s will offer a unique pair of shaving mugs that belonged to Frederick and August Duesenberg. They are especially desirable because each is hand-painted with a depiction of one of the brothers on a Duesenberg bicycle.
The mugs have a direct line of ownership to the Duesenberg family and will be sold as one lot, together with photos of the brothers on bicycles, a photo of the interior of their bicycle shop, and a letter of authenticity signed by Harlan Duesenberg. Both are in outstanding original condition.
“Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, men would keep their own personal shaving mugs on a rack at their local barber shop,” explained Morphy Auctions’ CEO Dan Morphy. “These mugs, which were used for mixing up shaving lather, typically had an image on them that reflected their owners’ occupations. Occupational shaving mugs are highly collectible today, and the most desirable among them are those that are associated with famous people of their era. Of all the shaving mugs we’ve sold at Morphy’s, these are quite likely the most important, and they come with impeccable Duesenberg family provenance.”
The Duesenberg brothers’ shaving mugs will be offered as a pair in