Many books have been published about the history of Java, some good, some worse. In this case, the goal was to process the history of the brand so responsibly that it would be very difficult to find incomplete or erroneous information. However, the number of pages alone tells a lot – there are 888 of them. Then it is not surprising that everything did not fit into one volume, so together with the description of the history, the numbering of the pages simply continues from the first book to the second. The book is simply called Jawa 1/2 and Jawa 2/2, the price for both parts is CZK 1,250, they cannot be ordered individually.
The vastness of the work was mainly caused by the number of photographs. Not only period ones, a smaller part of which has already been published somewhere before, but mainly photographs of preserved original motorcycles, their parts and archives taken by the author of the books. It is therefore difficult for a Jawa brand fan to tear himself away from them.
Processing the history of a motorcycle manufacturer is like solving a crossword puzzle or processing a company’s accounting. Rows and columns must agree, everything fits together. However, sometimes this is not the case in the description of history. Years ago I got into an argument with a Jawa motorcycle collector who brought me a book on Jawa history from the 1990s as an argument. “That’s how they write it here, so it’s true!” Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t. The first comprehensive book on Jawa motorcycles “Jawa Motorcycles – 70 Years of History” was a very sad proof of this. The number of errors in the text and incorrect captions for the images did not reflect the credit of the author.
On the other hand, the author of the new book – a double book – took as much care in the selection of high-quality and original objects he photographed as in the illustrated archival and contemporary promotional materials that accompany the comprehensive text. Libor Marčík has already done a lot of excellent work in many previous years and has published several publications in which he has compiled the history of many of our well-known and unknown motorcycle manufacturers.
He said many years ago that he didn’t want to go to Java. With his responsible approach to work, he knew very well that years of traveling through archives, museums and visiting collectors all over the country awaited him.
After eight years of demanding research work, the new publication basically put an end to the series of previous books on the history of Java, with the fact that hardly anyone will bring anything significant about the period from 1929 to 1954 that is missing here. If anyone would like to criticize the piece, perhaps a few typos that the proofreader didn’t notice. We would certainly welcome larger pictures, especially of what some of us consider important. But that would increase the scope even more, and 888 pages is already an incredible collection.
The History of Jawa is the sixth installment of a series of books called Our Motorcycles dealing with Czechoslovak motorcycles. The work from the Marčík publishing house has an encyclopedic character, while documenting historical facts, the author tries to avoid depicting motorcycles, even responsibly restored ones. He spent a lot of time looking for completely original, even if sometimes weathered, motorcycles and their parts.
The first part begins with a short biography of inventor, later gunsmith František Janeček, founder of Jawa. The chapter on negotiations with the German company Wanderer to buy a license and take over the production of their motorcycle in 1929 precedes the start of production of Jawa motorcycles at the Prague factory. In addition to the carefully processed history of all the following models, versions and variations of serial motorcycles, you will also read about the successes and sorrows that accompanied their production, sale and service here and abroad. The sporting events in which Jawa machines and our famous racers have successfully participated are listed chronologically in the chapters dealing with the production of touring machines, together with many photographs including descriptions of racing specials.
In this way, the set of two comprehensive books, which are on the one hand a real detailed encyclopedia, gained another dimension – for fans of the history of our one-wheeled vehicles, it became a publication that can really be read in its entirety. The text is not encyclopedically dry, so for those who are interested in the history of Java, the first part in particular will become an interesting read, almost a detective story in places.
The war years are described in great detail, when the company was preparing, after the death of the brand’s founder, not only for the post-war peaceful production of a new motorcycle, but also for re-entering the reopened racing tracks. The book describes the circumstances of the secret construction of sports machines, especially touring motorcycle prototypes, which, before the entire industrialized world could recover from wartime production, immediately after the end of the Second World War resulted in the production of the then most modern Jawa Perák motorcycle. It is also interesting to read about the prototypes of post-war touring motorcycles with their own four-stroke engines, ending with the serial production of the Jawa 500 OHC.
The most comprehensive second part of the work deals with serial production in more detail and will become an invaluable aid to anyone who restores or just repairs historic Jawa motorcycles or is thinking about buying them. You will appreciate the many tables with chronological series of production numbers. All models and their deviations in connection with dating are described and illustrated here in detail. It should therefore no longer be a problem to detect parts from other production series on a particular motorcycle, and thus assess the degree of true originality that determines the value of a historic vehicle.
The last, short part of the second volume brings some previously unpublished information about Jawa touring motorcycle prototypes from 1929 to 1954. We can only dryly note that, apart from the small numbers of two-handlebar specials for driving schools and tricycle rickshaws, we wish our ancestors and older generations a lot , so that the prototypes described and illustrated here could go into series production and they could drive them.
Likewise, many contemporary vintage enthusiasts would surely be delighted to park them in their garages and collections. Now, thanks to the new publication, we can at least familiarize ourselves with the surviving prototypes and information about them.