Saturday, November 13, 2021

Motosacoche goes camping

A charming picture featuring a Motosacoche from the veteran era.

Motosacoche were a Swiss firm that started off in 1899 making bicycle attachments. The name literally means 'motor in a case' as the engine units were packaged within an enclosed triangular subframe that would bolt into a bicycle's main triangle. 

The machine pictured here is a Model A that was made from 1901 up to 1910. Motosacoche went on to produce a large range of conventional motorcycles and MAG proprietory engines. Interestingly Motosacoche were paired up with Royal Enfield in the early days - they provided an IOE v-twin engine to Royal Enfield when they recommenced motorcycle production in 1910. Royal Enfield produced the cycle parts and sold it in the UK under the RE brand, Motosacoche produced a machine in turn that was near identical to the Royal Enfield and sold under their own brand name through Europe.

It's quite hard to come up with a back story to the photo. It is certainly very posed. The bell tent seems quite incongruous with the backdrop of what appears to be a windowless high sided wooden building with a corrugated iron roof.

Motosacoche - the motor in a case.


  1. Other shadows suggest the proximity of other buildings. A rope from the top of the tent to the tree looks makeshift, suggesting that the center pole of the tent is not firmly in the ground. The tent cover is staked all around, in fact the front wheel of the motorcycle is between these stakes so tightly that the front wheel is in contact with one of the lines. A board has been placed probably to establish a footing for the motorcycle rear stand, but the motorcycle is awkwardly placed on it. The motorcycle would have to have been virtually lifted to get into this position between the tent lines. The oldest girl may have been told to look at the motorcycle, although she is more likely averting her eyes from the sun. The children are spread out, evenly spaced, rather than centered as they would be in a true family portrait. The two older girls may have been told to "look natural" as their legs are extended naturally instead heel-to-heel. The motorcycle and its proud owner are really the subject of this photo. Is it a picture meant for advertising the motorcycle? The tent and ladder placed next to the tree (for fruit picking, although is no fruit currently) suggest the good life, which is completed by ownership of the motorcycle.

    1. ...the proud owner of the motorcycle is the apple of his family's eye. Mother is proud of him, too, so proud that she is the one behind the camera taking the picture.

    2. A lady trusted such a piece of technical equipment as a camera back then!!! Who knows, a progressive family perhaps... Certainly the image is posed to the point of painfulness and I'm pretty sure no one slept in the tent that night!