Barn-found trove of Indian motorcycles and materials goes to auction

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This 1910 Indian 4HP Single racer is one of 15 two-wheelers going to auction after being very quietly collected by the late Rickey Jensen | Larry Edsall photos

Rickey Jensen reportedly kept largely to himself, a quiet and private person who some thought to be “a bit of a hoarder.”

“A bit,” indeed.

It turns out that the late Jensen, who operated RJ and C Metal Fabricators in Phoenix, not only had an extensive collection of scrap metal and what have been described as “other junkyard items,” but after his death it was discovered that he’d spent decades finding and collecting motorcycles and other items produced by or related to Indian-brand motorcycles.

When Mecum Auctions was called upon to explore that collection and then to offer it to others through its 28th annual Las Vegas vintage motorcycle auction this week, auction staffers discovered that perhaps only one or two other people had seen Jensen’s trove of Indian things in several decades.

“Hidden away in the dark confines of his padlocked barn,” Mecum reports in its catalog, “this collection was a carefully curated treasure trove of valuable goods: 15 vintage Indian motorcycles and hundreds of pieces of Indian memorabilia — a collection so rare and desirable that it puts others before it to shame.

“While Jensen’s reclusive nature means that not much is known about him today, one thing is quite obvious: he was a man who lived and breathed for the Indian brand, and his dedication to the brand produced one of the finest Indian collections around.”

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A boy’s and a couple of girl’s Indian bicycles also will cross the block

The entire collection is being offered at no reserve at the auction. The motorcycles and bicycles cross the block on Thursday. The “Road Art” sale started Tuesday and continues throughout the auction, which concludes Saturday.

“Spanning from Indian’s beginning years to its bitter end, Jensen’s collection is a truly remarkable assemblage,” Mecum said, “and that he managed to build this amazing collection all in secret is shocking.”

 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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