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Mass Humanities METZ COLLECTION INVENTORY - This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities


Charles Metz and Motorcycles

Recently the Waltham Museum received a call from James Dennie of Palmyra, New York. Dennie is one of the largest collectors of antique motorcycles in the country with over thirty of them. He was in the process of buying an Orient motorcycle for over $10,000 dollars and wanted to make sure that this was an authentic Orient.

We thought that what we told him would also interest the readers of this newsletter. In 1898 Charles Metz developed the idea of placing a motor on the rear portion of a tandem bicycle. The man in the rear would operate the motor and the lead man would steer. The creation of this machine has long led to the statement that Charles Metz produced the first motorcycle in America. These machines were placed into production by the Waltham Manufacturing Company that same year.

This motorized tandem pacer was further expanded to a 3-seater with two separate engines. Albert Champion was in charge of adjusting and testing these two types of motorized pacers. Such testing was done at the Waltham bicycle track.

Metz then began an advertising campaign in 1899 and in his catalog listed these pacers as Orient Motor-cycles. This is the first published catalog using the term motor-cycle, other literature referred to them as motor-bicycles. Thus the word motorcycle was coined.

The 1902 Orient motorcycle sported a 2¬ H.P. engine and sold for $250.00. The gasoline tank held 5-quarts which was ample for 100 miles.

Metz left the Waltham Manufacturing Company in 1902 and started his own company on Whitney Avenue that was behind Woolworths’ on Moody Street. Here he produced the Metz motorcycle that was so good that it established the American record for a one-mile run at 1 minute and 10 seconds.

In 1906 Metz put a two-cylinder 4 H.P. engine on his motorcycles. That same year Metz merged with the Marsh Co. of Brockton and together they put out the Marsh-Metz motorcycle that was one of the best machines on the market. A twin-cylinder M-M motorcycle was introduced in 1908.

Note: The motorcycle Dennie is trying to acquire has two cylinders in an Orient frame but is either an experimental or mongrel machine.

News on The Metz Automobile

We received a letter from Bobby Peterson of Mobil, Alabama. He is still restoring his 1912 Metz. He sent along a newspaper article from the Mobil Register of July 29, 2001. It tells about another 1912 Metz owned by Ernie Youens who is also restoring his car. One interesting paragraph in the article was about ruts in the road. In the North, ruts were 56 inches apart and in the South they were 60 inches apart. Metz solved this problem by designing his wheel with a 2-inch extension of the hub on one side. Thus when the wheels are reversed you change the track by four inches. Gene Owens wrote the article.

We also received a latter from the National Parts Locator Service in Utah. This company devotes itself to finding any part for any automobile, truck or motorcycle from 1895 to the present. This should be good news to Orient and Metz vehicle restorers. For more information log in on www.nationalpartslocatorservice.com, or write to Walter Abbott, National Parts Locator Service, 636 East Sixth Street #81, Ogden, Utah 84404. 877-672-8440.

 Gore Estate

Charles Metz purchased the Gore Place Mansion in 1911 and used it for his corporate office and his home. Portions of the 120 acres of land that were part of the purchase were later subdivided and sold off as home lots. In 1921 the Metz Company was having problems and the property was sold to the Waltham Country Club and a nine-hole golf course was built. The Gore Society acquired the mansion in 1935 along with the land and made it into an historical site.

 A Major Acquisition by the Museum

The Waltham Museum is pleased to announce that it has doubled its collection on Metz by acquiring 46 different publications of original Metz catalogs, letters, brochures, pictures and related material. In addition it has acquired a large 1906 advertisement for an Orient Buckboard. It is framed and will be placed in the Metz room.

The Metz Company used number plates numbered 0476A to 0476Z on all their company cars. The Waltham Museum acquired in this lot, No. 0476V which will be mounted on its 1915 Metz.

 Letters to the Editor

My great-grandmother had been married to Charles Metz I was very happy to hear about the Waltham Museum and the Metz car of Waltham.

My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Brown Metz, was born in Sunderland, England in 1877 of Scottish parents. Her father was a seafarer who was seldom at home. She emigrated to America in her twentieth year.

Her first marriage ended in divorce. In the 1920's she worked for Mr. Metz as a secretary. When he moved to Southern California she went also. Mr. Metz's first wife died in the late 1920's and Mr. Metz and Elizabeth were married in 1930. Elizabeth called him C.H.

During the last years of his life Mr. Metz owned a cabinetry factory in Glendale, California. His three sons by his first marriage also lived in Southern California. Their names were Charles, Edwin and Hummel.

Mr. Metz died of cancer in 1937. This was shortly after the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in the Pacific, and during his final illness he asked if she had been found. My great-grandmother, out of kindness, told him that she had been found. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale.

Elizabeth survived him by twenty years, dying August 17, 1957. Most of this information came from my mother and my aunt. Best Wishes, Bruce Will of Maryland.

 Metz Pictures

Picture of Walter Metz | Picture of the Metz family

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