The above photo by supertsaar on Flickr reminded me of a conversation I had with Jos Louwman, founder of the well-known Mac Bike bicycle rental company in Amsterdam. Jos rode the same “Pfanntoom 1” bakfiets to our Oktoberfietsfeest party this past fall and I commented that it reminded me of the casket bakfiets I’d seen recently.
As it turns out there’s quite an interesting story behind the Pfanntoom and the reference to the casket trike was eerily close to the truth. Here’s a rough translation of Jos’ response:
“Funny that you the Phanntoom 1 compare to the casket bakfiets. My friend Henk Pfann (the godfather of the Amsterdam Bakfiets Club) is buried in the box that was originally mounted on the bakfiets. As a memorial we mounted a pontoon from a aquaplane on the chassis.”
It’s also worth noting that the box that was originally on this bakfiets (the one Henk Pfann is now buried in) was in the shape of a book, specifically a bible; Henk and his family were in the book business.
The name Pfanntoom is a word play on the Dutch “fantoom”, the English “phantom” (meaning the same thing) and the name Pfann.
The bakfiets chassis under the pontoon appears to be an old Maxwell, a long extinct firm that made some of the best bakfietsen ever. Maxwells often had unusual features including triple main tubes, lovely double chainstays, and a handle built into a rear fender reinforcement. Maxwell was founded in 1914 and continued until 1961 though I’ve never seen a Maxwell bakfiets or transportfiets that looked as if it was built after WWII. The Maxwell name is still in use for a generic line of Dutch city bikes but these don’t have anything to do with the old Maxwell.