Indian Single 1908 owned by pioneering stuntwoman CeDora

 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we focus on the achievements of CeDora (Eleanor Seufert), a pioneering stuntwoman. Throughout her 11-year career, CeDora performed on a specially commissioned Indian Single 1908 in the Globe of Death, an enclosed sphere of steel in which riders defy gravity by riding in loops in all directions. In a promotional article from the time, CeDora is billed as ‘The World’s Most Daring Woman — Defying Death on a Motorcycle’, and it is reported that she was referred to as ‘The Human Gyroscope’.

Indian Single C-Dora 1908 / Bunch Family Collection, Don Whalen Curator / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

The Globe of Death, a spectacular form of death-defying family entertainment appeared at circuses, carnivals and motorcycle shows dating back to the early days of motorcycles, and CeDora performed her signature stunt across North America, including at the New York Hippodrome, the largest theatre of its type in the world, and on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where there was a water circus. Other advertised attractions on Steel Pier in the early 1930s included a horse that would dive into a tub of water from a great height, clowns performing comedic dives into the ocean, a boxing kangaroo, trapeze acts, dancing bears, elephants, seals, porpoises and dogs.

View CeDora’s Indian Single 1908 at ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ showcasing 100 designs from 1871 until 2020 — only in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 26 April 2021.

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New York Hippodrome

New York Hippodrome c.1915-16 / Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Steel Pier, Atlantic City

The turn of the 20th century was a vibrant time for Atlantic City, the city only being established in 1854. By then, Atlantic City had become a popular beach destination and where tourists flocked to the Steel Pier boardwalk. Built in 1898, it was the city’s longest, at precisely 1,621 feet, later extended to 2,000.

CeDora poses on her Indian Single

Publicity photo of CeDora as she poses on her Indian Single 1908 

Indian Single 1908

Indian Single CeDora 1908 / Bunch Family Collection, Don Whalen Curator / Photographs: Markus Cuff

Specifications

Country: USA
Power:
7 hp

Engine: 499 cc inlet-over-exhaust single
Designer:Carl Oscar Hedstrom
Production: 1903-08

Interesting facts

  • Very few of these purpose-built stunt Indians were made, and this is the only one known to have survived.
  • CeDora, was reputed to be the first woman to appear in public wearing shorts — an affront to femininity at the time.
  • An American motorcycle collector spotted this dilapidated motorcycle at a show in 1988, bought it for US$10,000 and restored it to its current glory.

CeDora ‘The most daring girl on earth’

(left) World Amusement Service Association CeDora advertisement / (right) Publicity photos

Buy: ‘The Motorcycle’ publication

With over 320 pages and 400 colour illustrations, The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire showcases 100 superb examples of motorcycle design from the late 19th century to the present day and beyond to the technological innovations of the future. Beautifully illustrated with newly commissioned photography and archival ephemera, this visually arresting survey of the motorcycle’s influence in realms as diverse as film, fashion, sport, advertising, and technology will prove compulsive reading to design lovers and motorcycle fans alike. Available at the QAGOMA Store and online

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