Thanks for the thoughtful answers to the trivia question, gentlemen. The dramatic incident between the MAVIC guys and Mario Longhi was certainly a colorful chapter in cycling history, but Mr. Johnson had them beat (materials-wise) by over a decade! It's kind of scary to think about rolling around on a solid aluminum rim (whether cast or extruded), but he had some ideas that have stuck around. His design, if you hollow it out, is not unlike some of the modern, lightweight Velocity tubular rims.
I love Gary Klein, but he wasn't making much of anything in the 1920's. However, he's apparently building telescopes these days, and if he builds one with a Nightstorm paint job, I could be persuaded!
The correct answer was indeed Nels Johnson in 1923.
Take a look: it's pretty impressive!
The ace sleuth who dug this gem up will receive a FREE wheel building class at our posh and fragrant Midtown Bike Center, where the Lanterne Rouge sandwich will change your life.
Takumar, you somewhat anonymous fellow, contact Pete at the West Bank shop and he will get you all set up!