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50 Years Harley-Davidson

Heated discussion on the Company anniversary: too late, too early or just right?

If you want to stir up a heated discussion among Harley-Davidson history buffs, you only have to bring the conversation to the “round” company anniversaries. Yet it was only a simple metal badge with a “V” and “50 Years” that was affixed to the front fender of the 1954 model year.

Part of today’s Harley myth is the fact that we don’t know enough about the true history of the first “Number 1” motorcycle. It is likely that they were working on a motorcycle in 1903, but it was not completed until 1904. It can also be pointed out that – according to Harley-Davidson’s own information – the 50th Anniversary picture was taken in August 1953 and the 1954 model year was then already starting in production.

One should credit the family members of the time with knowing best about their own history, after all. With the “Enthusiast” of November 1963, today’s “counting method” was established – and since then, the celebrations have become increasingly bigger!

(L. to r.): William H. Davidson, Walter Davidson, Jr, Gordon Davidson and William J. Harley celebrate Harley-Davidson’s “50th birthday” with a ceremony on Capitol Drive in August 1953. (Harley-Davidson Archives)

The KH is introduced as the forerunner of the Sportster and many 1954 models receive a brass medallion on the front fender on which “50 Years Harley Davidson – American Made” is embossed in relief. Today an expensive collector’s item.

Faded and dented, but today a rare collector’s item: the 1954 50th Anniversary badge on a FL in Daytona.

Cult or cash? If the 50th Anniversary Badge is worth US-$ 950,- to the collector is somewhat discussable. Replicas are much cheaper. In 1955, another “annual badge” is used, which is not as popular as the 50th Anniversary badges.


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