One of the most common type of questions that we get here at TricycleFetish.com is concerning headbadge, decals and company stickers. When restoring an old tricycle, you might be able to get it to look like new with out too much trouble, but there’s always the issue of original decals and artwork. There is no simple solution to finding original headbadges and decals. They are brand specific and vary greatly between brands, and most companies changed their own designs several (or dozens) of times over the course of their existence.
Headbadges were made of tin, brass, transfer decals, stickers and paint. The easiest of these to find are the metal ones, as there is a collecting field for old bicycle headbadges and collectors and dealers of these sometimes have tricycle badges as well. Sometimes these can be found in online auctions, stores and classified ads, but they are still rare and finding them is difficult; finding the correct headbadge can be impossible. Another place to find headbadges is at bicycle swap meets.
If the tricycle that you’re restoring has a decal or sticker type headbadge, chances are that you’ll never find an old stock replacement. Over the past 10 years, I can count on one hand the times that I’ve seen headbadge stickers and all but one have been from newer tricycles. That isn’t to say they aren’t out there. There may be collectors who have some, but they are just not something that you can find, no matter how hard you look.
So what’s the solution? You have basically three options. First, you can just restore the tricycle and leave the headbadge with no decal or badge at all. Second, if your tricycle still has some of the headbadge decal, you can restore “around” it and leave the area around the headbadge on the steerer tube with the original paint. This option can turn out sort of funny looking depending on the type of decal and its condition. The final option is what we suggest to most visitors who pose this question….make your own decal.
If any of your decal remains, try to get a quality digital image of it. Import that into Photoshop or similar photo editing program, blow it up really big and do your best photo editing to make it look consistent and original. You can also try to find similar tricycle headbadge photos on our site or online and manipulate those photos. Once you are satisfied with your finished image, you can find a sticker company online (they’re everywhere and not difficult to find) and have a new sticker made for your tricycle. You can probably find someone online who can do the image restoration for a price if you think that it’s beyond your ability.
The easiest option is probably the one that requires making a new decal on your own. Though it requires some skills with photoshop and some time, it will be far easier than trying to find something that probably doesn’t exist.
The related question that always seems to be asked is how any of these options with affect the value. Ideally a tricycle would be in mint condition in the first place with the original head decal intact, but they rarely are. None of the options should hurt or help the value (nor really, the final look) of your tricycle more or less than any other option…as long as whatever you choose to do is done well. Antique tricycles that are missing their metal headbadges though, are obviously not quite as desirable as those with their original badges. Tricycles are not like classics cars, finding old stock original parts is very difficult, and there aren’t many options to newly made replacement parts, especially ones that are reproductions of the original parts.