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King’s bike in Bonhams Auction

1921 Rudge 499cc Multi once owned by King Onyeama of Eke, Nigeria Bonhams auction
1921 Rudge 499cc Multi once owned by King Onyeama of Eke, Nigeria

One of the highlights of the next Bonhams auction is a Rudge Multi that belonged to the King of Nigeria.

King Onyea Bonhams auction
King Onyeama
King George V Bonhams auction
King George V

The 1921 Rudge 499cc Multi which features in the Bonhams auction Banbury Run Sale in Woodstock, Oxford, on June 7 won’t cost a king’s ransom. It is in rather woeful condition and is expected to yield only as much as £3200 (about $5800).

The original owner, King Onyeama, received it as a gift from King George V, an enthusiastic cyclist who favoured Rudge’s products. The bike was a gift to the King after he bestowed his Royal Warrant on the Coventry firm.

Onyeama n’Eke was king of the Igbo people of south eastern Nigeria, a state that had been created by the merging of several West African kingdoms by the colonial power, Great Britain, in 1914 during King George V’s rule. Born in the 1870s, King Onyeama was accepted as the paramount ruler of his people in 1928 and reigned until his death in 1933.

He attended the British Empire Exhibition in London in 1924, visiting Buckingham Palace, and may have been given the Rudge during this visit. The King’s grand-daughter was told by her mother that the Rudge was used to run errands for him and was affectionately known within the royal family as ‘ogba tu, tu, tu’ – ‘the one that goes tu, tu, tu’. Not used since the late 1920s, the Rudge was shipped back to the UK in August 2013 by the family from their residence in Lagos where it had been kept in dry storage.

The upcoming Bonhams auction is set to be a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream with 102 lots of iconic bikes available.

1951 Vincent 998cc Rapide Bonhams auction
1951 Vincent 998cc Rapide

Other highlights include four Vincents with a combined estimate of almost £100,000 ($182,000) and a duo of Brough Superiors from the Myerscough family whose motoring history began in 1893 when Leonard Myerscough opened a business repairing and selling bicycles, followed by motorcycles and automobiles.

At the peak of this business, five locations serviced the Liverpool area under the banner L Myerscough & Sons Ltd. Encouraged by his father, the eldest son, Len Jr, took up dirt track racing in the late 1920s, enjoying success as a contracted team rider for both the Belle Vue Aces and Preston teams from 1928 to 1931.

Len Jr traveled across the UK and Europe racking up several wins on his Rudge against the very best European riders and always gave 100% for the fans’ entertainment. He later had three sons, the eldest being John Myerscough.

John, like his father was also an avid collector and trader of Vintage motorcycles, becoming the custodian of several of Len’s bikes. Over the years he added significantly to his collection, with his passion for Broughs leading him to add his personal favourite, the 11-50, to his collection in the 1970’s.

John Myerscough’s Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp is part of The Banbury Run auction – a piece of iconic motoring history estimated at £18,000 ($32,800) – £26,000 ($47,400) and offered without reserve.

The 1928/31 Brough Superior Overhead 680 is the second bike in the Myerscough duo and another highlight of the sale, estimated at £28,000 ($51,000) – £38,000 ($69,000). This early, Vintage-era Overhead 680 has been in the Myerscough family’s possession since at least 1969 and is thought to have been owned from new.

The Bonhams auction, held in conjunction with the world famous VMCC (Vintage Motor Cycle Club) Banbury Run, boasts an eclectic combination of cars and motorcycles.