Tuesday, May 8, 2012

JOS, Radios, Luxor Ebay bonanza

I like vintage French bicycle lights. So much so, that one of my saved searches on Ebay is '(luxor, radios, soubitez, JOS)' in the Vintages Parts & Accessories category. Today, this search has yielded an unusual bonanza of beautiful, often new-old-stock (NOS) items.  I don't know anything about the vintage French bicycle accessory market, but there seem to be a few French Ebay sellers that frequently list some highly desirable lights. I assume these guys pick them up for a song and then sell the choice ones for a small fortune (JOS lamps can easily fetch several hundred dollars). I don't know where this seemingly endless supply of NOS JOS/Luxor/Radios lamps is sourced from, but I'm mildly suspicious that it is some kind of racket where supply is tightly controlled to drive up prices.  The frequency of NOS JOS 431 headlamp and FU tail lamp listings borders on conspiratory.

While most of these lights are way out of my budget, I do admire the often beautiful photography and feel that the images have an important archival quality that exceeds that of the two sites I know of that document vintage French lamps.  High quality Ebay listing photos are inherently ephemeral, so I wanted to provide a more permanent home for some of the really nice lamps that have turned up on Ebay France in the last few weeks. I won't link to the auctions on Ebay, as they themselves are eventually lost in the ether.  The main sellers whose images I'm using are 1649philippe and rocvale (the latter of which has a cool site and blog).  Should they have a problem with it, I encourage them to contact me (email at the bottom of the page), although this post will most likely work in some small way to their advantage by furthering the fetishization of their wares!  Here they are:

JOS 431C.  This is the holy grail for restorers of Alex Singer touring/randonneuring bicycles.  These diminutive headlights, usually mounted on the front fender/mudguard, can command anywhere from $200-400!  This one is NOS, although with a lot of noticeable shop wear:

JOS FU and FUA taillights. The charming taillight with the slightly less charming name, it is often paired with the 431 headlight.  Typically, the FU/As are mounted on a braze-on on the left chain stay, like this and this.  Prices are similarly ridiculous ($100-$400+):



RADIOS Nº16 headlamp. This is a slightly smaller version of the RADIOS Nº18. A relative bargain at $75-$200:

RADIOS taillights.  I don't know much about them, but they are pretty spectacular:

RADIOS droplet fender-mounted taillight

RADIOS taillight with bracket for fender mounting

Finally, no sonnet to French lights would be complete without mention of my personal favorite, the Luxor series.  The Ebay listings are a little light right now, but here is a really nice example of the 'Le Paon' fender-mounted taillight:

I'm a personal fan of the 'Le Martele' hammered Luxor lights, and even own a set, which I've been busy trying to upgrade with LEDs.  Now I just need to find a bike to put them on...