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Formerly the property of His Majesty King Onyeama of Eke, Nigeria
1921 Rudge 499cc Multi Project
Frame no. 781087
Engine no. 21180

Multi Gear no. 15466

This original and un-restored Rudge Multi was first owned by King Onyeama of Eke, Nigeria, who had received it as a gift from HM King George V. An enthusiastic cyclist who favoured Rudge's products, the latter had bestowed his Royal Warrant on the Coventry firm, so the choice of one of its motorcycles as a gift for foreign royalty seems only natural. 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.

Bryan Reynolds, Rudge expert and author of the definitive marque history 'Don't Trudge It Rudge It', has confirmed that the frame, engine and Multi gear are a 'matching number' combination that left the factory on 4th May 1921. Beneath the surface rust, the machine remains in remarkably good condition and retains the correct Senspray carburettor and ML magneto. The fastenings appear never to have had a spanner laid on them; indeed, it is quite likely that the engine has never been apart since it left the factory. A few components are missing, most notably the bicycle pedalling gear (used for starting), ignition points and cover, Bowden cables, footrest rubbers, exhaust silencer and some minor handlebar controls. The fuel and oil tanks have rotted out but what remains is more than sufficient to serve as patterns for accurate replacements. Many experienced restorers will have successfully rebuilt motorcycles in far worse condition than this wonderful 93-year-old-Rudge. Sold strictly as viewed, the machine comes with importation paperwork, email correspondence and a short biography of King Onyeama. It is understood that a dating letter will have been obtained from the Rudge Club by time of sale.

Bonhams 1793
101 New Bond Street
United Kingdom
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Bonhams Collectors’ Car department