Claud Butler frame number identification

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Hello all Claud owners out there.
I’ve recently been trudging through this forum trying to collate numbers in an attempt to make sense of the various systems employed over the years to frame stamp Claud Butler bicycles, whilst doing this I noticed that over the past 10 years or so on this forum, there have been various attempts at this, lots of discussions going back and forth, guesses without photos, misreading of numbers and hanging dates off of other guesstimates as if gospel etc etc (some of which I have been guilty myself!) have made this search for clarity a bit messy to say the least.
So, here is my attempt to tidy it up, these are my interpretations, and not absolutes, with of course plenty of holes in, I have come to these conclusions after debating with various other members and reading various threads, so a lot of this comes from you guys! So here goes;
Up until the modern (& longest) Falcon ownership in 1987 and excluding any initial early 20’s start-up system or Claud Butlers attempt to re-start in competition with Holdsworth in the sixties, I believe that there are at least seven differing frame systems, namely;

1. 1928 – December 1949, Claud Butler ownership, first number = year, next = month?
2. January 1950 – October 1956, Claud Butler ownership, first two numbers = year, next = month.
November 1956 – July 1958 Receiver-ship black hole
3. January 1959 – Mid 1967, Holdsworth ownership, sequential until about 31000 Seperate thread HERE
4. Mid 1967 – Mid 1976, Holdsworth ownership, sequential from 50000 until about 71000
5. Mid 1976 – November 1985, Holdsworth ownership, six digits always starting with a 0
6. December 1985 – January 1987, Marlborough ownership. No info at present.
7. February 1987 – present day, Falcon ownership. No info at present.

Of which the first five are of the most interest to CB retro fans.
These systems differed in ways that although in the most part are very different, there are some cases (especially if you only look at the numbers out of context and only printed on a page) where they can be miss interpreted for one another, which is why photos of the numbers, frame details and reference material such as the Nkilgarif website & the VCC are absolutely essential to come to a reasonable assumption regarding type & age.
And of course, customer specials and odd shop builds will always pop up just to throw a spanner into the works!
But here are some guidelines to be getting on with;
 

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Re: A 'how to identify a Claud Butler frame number' thread

1. 1928 – December 1949. This system employed the first number as the date year, with in many cases the next one or two numbers for the month, the month argument seems to me to be inconclusive, but if you have a really old frame, like my 1939 DSH Championship Path number 931600, then the first port of call is to look at the bottom bracket thread size, if its 1.450 26tpi, this is larger than the standard British ISO so pretty much places the frame pre-war. (NB, yes the forks don't match. apparently this isnt un-common for racing bikes)

My 1949 Sport Anglais is number 972471, I know it’s a ’49 because of specific lug details available only in that year and a frame count of 2471 is certainly reasonable for July if that’s what the 7 represents.
 

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  • 972471 1949 Sport Anglais.jpeg
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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

2. The early 50’s. By far the easiest to interpret, normally manifests itself as a group of digits, two for the year & one or two for the month then a group (one to four) for the frame count, these can be sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other, as the number of digits representing these differs throughout the year, but a little math and some basic deductions can help, here are some examples;
My Massed Start has 522 placed above 513 stamped on the BB. Now I deduce that it is most likely frame number 513 from February 1952 rather than frame number 522 from March 1951 because CB at this time were producing over 300 framesets a month, so a count of 513 sometime in February is statistically more likely than 522 in March.
Another example is my Jubilee with the numbers 8509 stamped above 5412, so this is the other way around (fun isn’t it?) but its reasonable to believe that CB had made 8509 frames by December 1954. By the way, if my frame was the last that year, that’s an average of 709 frames a month… see why I think my Massed start was built in February not March now?
Also, my collection of seven 1950’s CB’s have four with the date below, 3 with the date above! (see photos below)
 

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  • 522513 1952 Massed Start.jpeg
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  • 5031533 1950 Avant Coureur.jpeg
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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

3. First batch of Holdsworth numbers. Jan ’59 – Mid ‘67
Lots of discussion has been had about these, with many (inc the VCC) believing that in the earlier days these had a date number at the start & possibly repeated each year for the first 3 years at least… But and it’s a big but, I and a few likeminded renegades believe it’s much simpler than that, namely Holdsworth started the ‘new’ CB’s with a sequential system back in January 1959 starting with number 1 before catching up with the own brand frames sometime mid 1967 with something close to 31000 frames. See my 1961 Super Coureur number 9081 my 1963 Cordon Bleu number 14064 below.
 

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  • 9081 1961 Super Coureur.jpeg
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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

4. Second batch of Holdsworth numbers. Mid ’67 – Mid ‘76
Same simple sequential sequence as above but now starting with 50000 in mid-1967, culminating somewhere near 71000 by the summer of 1976.
Its difficult to date these two batches accurately at the moment, but behind the scenes a group of likeminded people are attempting to collate a list and have already found some ‘corner stone’ numbers to start trying to hang some dates on.
Also, watch out, numbers 50000 to 56999 could be miss identified as 1950’s numbers if the frame details are ignored. (see my Valiant T.59 55176 above)
For example;
19104 Velo Capital, was only advertised in 1964
26876 Torino has a documented purchase date of 17.02.66
53254 Spectra was only advertised in 1968
66735 Electron 531 Reynolds was only produced in 1976.
And just for fun, here is my son’s 1969 Electron number 56748 and 1969 Corridore 56698
 

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  • 56748 1969 Electron Superfive.PNG
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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

5. Third batch of Holdsworth number. Mid 1976 – November 1985
The last batch of numbers are another easy fix, for three reasons; firstly, they all start with at least one zero, second, they are always six figure and finally they now utilise and are incorporated in the Holdsworth system, which DWScrimshaw hosts a Holdsworth frame Number record thread here on RetroBike.
As for photo examples, here is my sons 1977 Cavalier 005166, my daughters Majestique 016001 and my own 1984 Majestic 058569.
 

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  • 005166 1977 Cavalier.jpeg
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CBguy

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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

Hi Chris,

A lot of thought and work! Thanks for this thread, so that all may have access.

I agree with your interpretations of various Claud Butler serial systems - especially with your thoughts post Holdsworthy take over. The Claud serial system, especially from 1959 into first half of 60's is confusing!
I agree there has been a lot of misinformation perhaps propagating misconceptions. Also, the sequential numbering system jumping ahead from ~31000 to likely 50001 in 1967 and carried on to ~71000 in 1976 is a finding I've previously recognized and discussed in prior posts but have never seen documented anywhere. It appears this jump ahead in Claud numbers was likely done as the Claud Butler numbers (larger yearly volumes) and Holdsworth model numbering systems were intersecting with coincident confusion.

In working with Dave Scrimshaw and his development of a large Holdsworthy serial database, it has become clear that what at first appears utterly confusing and unsolvable re particular numbers or at best a theory becomes much clearer as new and good data surfaces.

To that end and to build your data, I'd encourage forum members to contribute their serial information, particularly post Holdworthy takeover, to this thread or yourself privately. Any accompanying history, documentation, and pics of a particular frame with actual numbering pic would be helpful.

Doug
 

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Re: Re:

The History Man":14cypv9j said:
This is a Claude? butler frame number thread isn’t it?

:xmas-wink: Nope, it's A Claud Butler frame number thread :xmas-big-grin:
 

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Re: THE how to identify a Claud Butler frame number thread

CBguy":1syd5r37 said:
To that end and to build your data, I'd encourage forum members to contribute their serial information, particularly post Holdworthy takeover, to this thread or yourself privately. Any accompanying history, documentation, and pics of a particular frame with actual numbering pic would be helpful.

Doug

Thanks for the positive comments Doug and the call to arms!

I do hope people feel free to add comments and especially photos/details/frame numbers from across the whole spectrum, from the twenties right up to the mid 90’s
I don’t really have a cut off in mind, but as the steel bikes petered out of the range by I think 1996-8, that should probably suffice.
Chris.
 
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