January 27 2011 by Jason Fogelson
Drop by any Harley-Davidson owner's home, and chances are, you're going to see at least a few decorative items featuring the Harley Bar & Shield logo. I'm not embarrassed to admit that there's at least one H-D item in each room of my house, not to mention my garage and tool room.
The Harley-Davidson Bar & Shield logo first appeared in 1910, and it hasn't changed much since. 1910 was early in the Art Deco period of art and design, and the Bar & Shield fits in perfectly. It has aged particularly well, in my opinion. The logo looks both modern and classic. Everything looks better with the Bar & Shield on it.
Harley-Davidson must agree with me. Just check out the Home/Collectibles page on the Harley website. There are currently 70 authorized items available for sale, from coffee mugs to wall clocks to yo-yos to business card holders, each emblazoned with the H-D logo. Harley takes quite a bit of care to ensure that its logo appears on items of quality, even if the collectibles are completely non-motorcycle related. Some collectibles are available online directly through H-D, and some are only sold at dealerships. Many Harley dealers devote nearly as much floor space to collectibles and Motor Clothes as they do to parts and motorcycles. It's tough to walk out of a dealership empty-handed, there are so many cool things to buy.
Counterfeit goods are always an issue. If you see Harley gear at a swap meet or flea market, be sure to look for the legal notice that the Harley logo is being used under license, and that the item is authorized by H-D. Otherwise, you might be buying a knock-off, and funding a business that has nothing to do with Harley. That's not cool, and it's against the law.
Speaking of swap meets or flea markets, another kind of Harley collectible is Harley memorabilia. Since the Motor Company has been around for so long, there have been many interesting items produced, and many are highly collectible. Some of my favorites are early Harley-Davidson Motor Oil cans, which have a great look and iconic graphics. I'm always on the lookout for early H-D parts, like gas tanks, nameplates and derby covers, that feature the Bar & Shield logo and original, aged finishes. To my eye, the side of a 1930's gas tank is a piece of industrial art, suitable for hanging and display. Many experts agree.
Another Harley collectible that I never tire of is scale models. My taste in motorcycles is much, much broader than my budget. But one way that I can indulge myself within my means is by buying accurate scale models of my dream motorcycles, and displaying them in a place of pride in my home. Harley periodically authorizes commemorative edition models of significant bikes from their history, and produces a number of copies for sale. I love these models, and looking at them takes me to places in my imagination that I could never go in real life. Isn't that what a collectible is supposed to do?