Edgar Jes­sop

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Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

To­day, overt spon­sor­ship of leading sports­peo­ple is a re­fined art. Note the deft man­ner in which Nico Ros­berg ca­su­ally slips on an­other brand new Thomas Sabo wrist­watch as he steps onto the top rung of the Grand Prix podium, or Marc Mar­quez takes a healthy tug on a can of Red Bull as he makes his way through the ranks of weep­ing, van­quished ri­vals to col­lect an­other enor­mous tro­phy.

Un­til re­cent per­sonal is­sues, Tiger Woods could take his pick from a cho­rus­ing line up of will­ing spon­sors, of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from cloth­ing to lux­ury au­to­mo­biles, and Roger Fed­erer’s left wrist is never seen in pub­lic un­less adorned by the lat­est Rolex time­piece. Suc­cess breeds suc­cess, and ev­ery­one loves a win­ner. It was thus so even when Edgar Jes­sop was the pin-up boy of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing; his highly col­lectible posters adorn­ing the bed­room walls of teenagers of both (or all three) sexes, his sig­na­ture a prized cap­ture for any au­to­graph hunter. Edgar too, could pick and choose when it came to en­dorse­ments and spon­sor­ship, and he gen­er­ally made his se­lec­tion in line with per­sonal pro­cliv­i­ties. He en­joyed a ro­bust re­la­tion­ship (and con­ducted ex­haus­tive prod­uct test­ing) with the pro­ducer of rub­ber goods, Ansell, and it wasn’t for wash­ing up gloves. Since his shirt was fre­quently ripped from his back by hys­ter­i­cal fe­male ad­mir­ers, a Van Heusen rep­re­sen­ta­tive shad­owed his ev­ery move, prof­fer­ing ap­pro­pri­ately styled gar­ments from a seem­ingly in­ex­haustible stock. A French Riviera-based con­sor­tium li­cenced his name (and continues to do so) to flog their exclusive and ex­pen­sive range of bou­tique fra­grances. It was while com­pet­ing in South Aus­tralia at the Barossa Vin­tage TT, where he rode the chal­leng­ing Spag­forth Ju­niper, that Edgar was ap­proached by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Pen­folds Wines, with a view to pro­vid­ing spon­sor­ship in cash and (es­pe­cially) kind. Edgar had met Pen­folds’ wine­maker Max Schu­bert at the Grand Prix de Bordeaux in 1951, and Schu­bert had made a gift of sev­eral cases of his new cre­ation ten­ta­tively named Hay­maker Her­mitage. Edgar was im­pressed with the wine but not the name and sug­gested nam­ing it Grange, af­ter his coun­try es­tate in Suf­folk, and the rest is his­tory. De­lighted with the sales up­take, Pen­folds com­mis­sioned the con­struc­tion of a spe­cial ve­hi­cle (ca­pa­ble of dis­pens­ing al­most un­lim­ited quan­ti­ties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cham­bourcin or Tokay from sep­a­rate com­part­ments) that ac­com­pa­nied Edgar on the com­plete length of his highly suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian tour. On com­ple­tion of the en­gage­ment, the ve­hi­cle was pre­sented to Edgar, and later Spag­forth made a limited run of repli­cas, which – ap­pro­pri­ately – were pow­ered by steam.

ABOVE Mrs Edi­tor out­side the Edgar store in San Tropez; a li­cenc­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with the Jes­sop Trust that has en­dured for many decades.

LEFT Edgar Jes­sop’s valet, Murgatroyd, awaits his mas­ter’s plea­sure.

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