Showing posts with label 1896. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1896. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

Crawford Bicycles Poster (1896)

Ride a Crawford Bicycle (1896)

Title-Ride a Crawford Bicycle
Summary-Young couple with bicycles pause by side of road.
Created / Published-1896.
- Chromolithograph by Strobridge & Co. Lith., Cincinnati-New York, 211 x 102 cm.
- This record contains unverified, old data from caption card. Medium-1 print (poster).
Call Number/Physical Location POS - ADV. 19th c. - Bicycles. S778, no. 7 (in 3 parts) (D size) [P&P]
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The summer of 1896 was the height of the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s - a price range of $60 to $75 at that time was fairly good (that is, inexpensive) compared to Columbia bicycles that were offering their most expansive models for $100.

"For Health & Recreation" is an amusing slogan to feature on this poster, given that the couple seems mostly to be enjoying one another's company. Also, the width of the byway upon which they are traveling seems fanciful - not realistic one suspects for the time (or any time, in fact). Still, cyclists were (ahead of motorists, who didn't yet exist!) leaders in the "good roads" movement. Well - some cyclists along with some bicycle manufacturing companies. There had to be some good roads in order for the product to be useful.

Crawford Bicycles Ad 1897

A modest ad for Crawford Bicycles - see how it appeared here: in "Cycling Life," a trade journal. This small ad ran frequently in 1896-1897.

Crawford Bicycles had its factory in nearby Hagerstown MD. (Nearby from the perspective of the Washington DC area.) In 1902 the Crawford brothers sold their bicycle business to a larger bicycle company and proceeded to start up an automobicle manufacturing company, Crawford Automobile.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Cost of Cycling for the "Modern Athletic Girl" of 1896

"Modern Athletic Girl" of 1896
WHAT THE "MODERN ATHLETIC GIRL COSTS. The Various Items of the Necessary Summer Sporting Outfit. From The Journal newspaper (New York), Sunday June 26, 1896 (

The Journal newspaper of 1896 in New York carried far more pages than other urban newspapers in the U.S. at the time and worked hard to fill the pages up with various kinds of human interest material. 1896 was the height of the so-called "bicycle craze" in the U.S. so here we have an article that combines that topic with women and sports. Probably because of the exceptional popularity of bicycling at the time, it is discussed first, then golf, hunting, and other sporting endeavors. Cycling is also given here as the most expensive at almost $200.

The father of an up-to-date society girl who decided to take up athletics this Summer consented with pleasure to buy his daughter a $100 wheel, thinking that $125 at the highest would be all the money necessary for him to spend on her bicycle outfit. The following Is an' Itemized account of the bills which were sent him for everything pertaining to her bicycle outfit: Bicycle, $100; lamp, $5; cyclometer, $1.25; bell, 50 cents; foot pump, $1.50; bicycle stand, $2.50; lock, 50 cents; silver name plate, $2; knee protector, $3.50; Summer bicycle costume, made to order of linen homespun, $25; linen knickerbockers, $5; one pair low bicycle shoes, $4; one pair boots, $6; three pairs of silk stockings, $G; three pairs golf stockings, $6; linen hat to match suit, $3; six shirt waists, $18; pair of gloves, $1.35, making a total of $191.10.
Arguably the amount and cost of the "required" clothing is intentionally varied and high in order to support the article's point that such activities are expensive; it is more interesting to see what are given as typical accessories, including lamp, cyclometer (measuring distance covered), bell, footpump, stand, and lock. (I wonder how the lock would have worked - in looking at ads and articles about cycling at the time, I have not commonly observed a lock set-up for bicycles.)

Detail - "Modern Athletic Girl" of 1896
Detail of above illustration with woman on bicycle

Friday, November 24, 2017

Eiffel (Tower) Tandem Bike

Eiffel Tower Bike
Eiffel Tower tandem bicycle of 1896

New York Journal, December 20, 1896 - human interest article (of a sort) in the New York Journal newspaper during the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s.
The Newest Thing in Cycles Is Twenty Feet from Mother Earth.

Probably the most grotesque production in the cycling line is the Eiffel tower tandem. Der Stein der Weiser shows an illustration of this curiosity. It is a strongly constructed bicycle, supporting a pyramid shaped frame of hollow tubing twenty feet high. On top of this frame is a saddle with handle bars and treadles, the motion of which is transmitted by chains to the corresponding lower parts of the bicycle.

The chief difficulty with which the riders have to contend is to keep the machine balanced, as will be easily understood from a glance at the illustration, but it must also be very difficult for the upper rider to reach his seat, which cannot be a very safe one.
The illustration has "Sci.Am.NY" below it, which is probably giving credit to Scientific American where an article with this illustration may have appeared, although the text mentions a German publication (but seems to misspell the title?). The New York Journal newspaper of the 1890s was a relatively large newspaper in terms of pages and they filled it up with a wide variety of stories on various topics taken from other sources, the then-equivalent of click-bait. How (or if) these other publications were compensated for this re-use is not clear.

Riding high . . .
The do-it-yourself somewhat lesser modern version of this sort of thing

Monday, November 6, 2017

Idyllic Cycling Outing of 1896

Family Outing on Bicycles 1896 (lithograph)
Presumably used in advertising for this Indiana bicycle company

Title-Crown Cycles
Summary-Family outing on bicycles.
Created / Published-1896.
- Lithograph poster.
- This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
Medium-1 print : lithograph.
Call Number/Physical Location-No call number recorded on caption card [item] [P&P]
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id-cph 3a48326 //
Library of Congress Control Number-2006684350
Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-48185 (b&w film copy neg.)
Rights Advisory-Rights status not evaluated.
Description-1 print : lithograph. | Family outing on bicycles.
LCCN Permalink

Peculiar sort of advertisement - only the man's bike is properly visible, and even it is not shown in much detail. The front of the woman's bike is obscured and the child's bike is not visible at all. (At this point serious children's bikes were not much of a market since the cost was rather high for something for a child.) It is also interesting that the emphasis here, in 1896, is on where you can go with the bicycle and doesn't show the cyclists riding the bicycles.

1896 was the height of the so-called "bicycle craze" of the 1890s.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Almighty Bicycle" (in 1896)

The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade - article from the New York Journal from the summer of 1896, the height of the 1890s "bicycle craze."

The Almighty Bicycle - The Most Startling, Sudden and Powerful Influence Ever Known in the History of Trade.  (June 1896 article)
"Infographic" illustrating the growth in bicycle cycles from 1891 to 1896

From the text of the very long article:
IN all the wonder story of commerce and money dealings from the days of the Phoenicians there is no chapter so astounding as that which tells of the bicycle. A toy, it has overturned the trade of nations within the compass of five fleeting years. Serious people laughed at it and called the folk who rode it today those same serious people have recalled their capital from world-wide enterprises and started it anew In the bicycle business to save'themselves from commercial shipwreck. The whirring of these cobweb wheels has been like the spider's spinning - silent, wonderful. Fortunes have been made as if by magic.

The facts and figures are appalling. Commerce, for all its keen vision, can not read them aright. Five years ago, in this whole wide country, not 60,00Q bicycles were made or sold, and the solid, stolid business men made mock of the Mark the change. In this year of grace and pneumatic tires, four-fifths of a million of wheels be marketed in the United States alone. The leaders in the bicycle trade say that an average price for these machines us $80. Multiply. There will have been spent this year in the United States alone, for bicycles. The world is bicycle mad.

The article is quite long, but the suggestion is that the popularity of bicycles and the amount of money spent on bicycles by consumers caused a fall in other products, including from the sale of horses to cigars and jewelry.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Anti-Cyclist Tract From 1896 (AKA the "Bicycle Road to Hell")

Anti-Bicycle book from 1896

Historical and humorous sketches of the donkey, horse and bicycle. The bicycle viewed from four standpoints: anatomical, phisiological [!], sociological, and financially. Also an allegory on the bicycle road to hell

What a title page!





By Dr. C: E. NASH,

Dr. Nash published this book himself. He also made sure it was deposited for copyright registration at the Library of Congress. What was he trying to do with this book?
We would not undertake to say but that some of the purest and best class, of women are riding bicycles ; some of the most cultured and refined ladies are indulging in what they consider a refining exercise. Their endorsement has led to untold liberties, their sanction to immoralities of which they are ignorant. A sanction of an evil by the good gives double force to the evil. The motive for writing this book is to try to improve the morals and manners of those who stand in the way of good manners and right living, not by a progressive but a retrogressive movement.
Oh. Well.

The guy is a bigot, and he attacks more than cyclists. Not particularly humorous - pretty nasty. Ugh!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Shakespeare Would Ride the Bicycle if Alive Today

Shakespeare would ride the bicycle if alive today
Brochure from Cleveland Indian bicycle company-Shakespeare Would Ride the Bicycle if Alive Today

Libraries sometimes have in their collections brochures that are treated like a book. This is such an example - the University of Delaware had digitized this "book" that is a 12 page brochure from the Cleveland Bicycle Company, published in 1896. It is available from the HathiTrust digital library consortium web site in full. I found the cover the most amusing; the remainder is not so clever (and one is reminded of certain kinds of unfortunate default racism of earlier times).

It seems an odd marketing approach in the America of 1896 to try to tie cycling to Shakespeare.

And would Shakespeare have been amused??

Title : Shakespeare Would Ride the Bicycle if Alive Today
Corporate Author: H.A. Lozier & Co.
Language(s): English
Published: Cleveland : The Company, ©1896.
Subjects: H.A. Lozier & Co. > Catalogs.
Bicycles > Catalogs.
Physical Description: [12] p. : col. ill. ; 14 cm.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Profane Parrot Cyclist of 1896 (Human Interest Journalism)

The Sunday edition of the New York Journal of the late 1890s ran 40 pages or more, which was a lot of space to fill for a newspaper of that time. Some of the space was filled with human interest stories associated with fashionable or trendy topics of the moment, such as cycling. Below is a reasonably typical example, going on at considerable length about not very much.

It seems from other articles that at least at this point in the "bicycle craze" the New York Journal was not in favor of women wearing bloomers, so perhaps the paragraph (indicated in bold text below) is more an expression of the point of view of the publication and not just the parrot.

A Profane Parrot that Rides a Bicycle

A BICYCLIST parrot Is a conspicuous figure of life on the Boulevard and other uptown thoroughfares which are given up to the riders of the wheel. Everybody Is to be seen on a bicycle nowadays: old women, old men, babies and so forth. It is, therefore, not surprising that a parrot should make his appearance, for no creature could be more active, gay and sociable.

But this particular bird deserves mention for other reasons than the mere fact that he rides a bicycle. His conversational eccentricities are the amusement and the terror of the bicycling community.

The bird's full name is Don Cesar, and his owner Is J. J. Walsh, of No. 490 Sixth avenue, who tells endless stories of the indiscretions of the bird.

The Parrot that Rides a Bicycle

Do not expect to hear that Don Cesar turns the pedals of a bicycle himself by any means. Even If that were possible he is too averse to hard work to consent to any such arrangement. When he wants exercise he takes it on the wing, but the tongue is the member which he chiefly loves to agitate.

He perches in the middle of the handle-bars, on the spot where some enthusiastic bicyclists place their babies. There he stands and vociferates and scratches himself. Now and then he ducks his head down to see how the front wheel is going. It Is a wonder that he has never punctured the tire and dislocated his beak, but that has not happened yet.

Occasionally he leaves the handle-bars and takes a fly into the air. For a parrot he is a good flyer. Having taken a view of the crowd, of the river, or whatever may be in sight, he returns faithfully to the wheel. Mr. Walsh slackens his speed slightly when the bird goes flying.

Don Cesar Is a green and red parrot of South American birth. At one time he belonged, like most parrots, to a seafaring man. During that period of his career he visited the principal ports of the world and learned at least four different languages. These languages consist chiefly of profanity.

It brings prosperity to have a parrot on board ship, just as it means means certain misfortune to have a black cat. Once Don Cesar was left ashore in a saloon in Rio Janeiro by a thoughtless mariner. The ship had weighed anchor, but a deputation of seamen, having represented the gravity of the situation to the captain, the longboat was manned and Don Cesar was rescued. When he was safe on board he swore with such vigor that every one was satisfied that he would have brought evil to the ship If he had stayed ashore.

One of the most dangerous things a sea man can do is to give away a parrot who has learned nautical ways. But Mr. Walsh earned the friendship of a sailor to such an extent that he gave him his parrot, Don Cesar, a bird of rare experience. Now, the bird has changed his proud position of mascot on a ship to the equally eminent one of figurehead on a bicycle In the streets of this metropolis.

Don Cesar's favorite languages are Spanish, Italian, French and German. You may hear him almost any evening on the Boulevard carrying on a monologue of this sort: "Noni d'un chlen, veut-tu ficher la pals'?"."Corpo dl Bacco."."Tas d'idlots."."Caramha."."Allez au diable."."Pesta."."Ach du lieber Gott!"."Oh, la, la!"

According to his owner Don Cesar becomes speechless with rage at the sight of a woman in bloomers. He sets up a fierce, hoarse shriek, which he keeps up for several minutes, at the end of which he is in danger of falling off the handle-bars. Evidently he has old-fashioned ideas on the subject of women. He believes that they should stay in petticoats. When they are so attired he is very affable, submitting to have his head scratched, but, sad to relate, he does not relax his profanity.

Don Cesar enjoys bicycling very thoroughly, otherwise he would not go riding. He gets the best part of it, the fresh air and the excitement, without the exertion and the fatigue.

Of course he behaves himself interesting at other times than when he is on the wheel [bicycle].

It is his habit to salute his master when he returns home, at whatever hour this may be. His favorite greeting Is: "Hello, popper! I see you!"

He repeats this a number of times In a very loud voice, accompanying his remarks with a shrill, mocking laugh. This trick used to cause a little embarrassment to Mr. Walsh when the hour of his return was one which he did not wish to have announced to his family and all his neighbors. Any attempt to silence Don Cesar by threats of violence or throwing a cloth over him was met by louder shrieks. Don Cesar proved utterly incorrigible in this respect, and so his owner has become very regular in his hours.

Croozer Test Ride

Nowadays people often use trailers to travel around by bike with their animals - usually dogs, such as this photograph reused from Flickr shows. I don't recall seeing any parrots on handlebars, though. I have thought about having a trailer for my family dog perhaps in a few years when she is a little older and might appreciate it (more).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cyclists, Pedestrians, 1896 NYC

"Everybody rides a bicycle nowadays, and the pedestrian worries"
"Everybody rides a bicycle nowadays, and the pedestrian worries"

The New York Journal, May 10, 1896.

The summer of 1896 was the height of the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s - one of several "bicycle books" according to Although generally I think the bicycle craze of the 1890s is considered the most noteworthy - it followed the introduction of the "safety bicycle," which is not that different than bikes we ride today.

The New York Journal (aka "The Journal") is available for several years in the late 1890s online.

The above image came from an eleven page "Journal Bicycle Edition" supplement to the regular paper issue for Sunday May 10, 1896.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Celebrity Bicycle Reporting (1896)

A rather fanciful article about a then-famous singer, Lillian Russell, in the New York Journal that was for the time a daily newspaper with more pages to fill than most as well as presumably more readers to attract, so apparently they were inclined to long dramatic reports.

Title-The journal, May 19, 1896
Place of Publication-New York [N.Y.]
Created / Published-New York [N.Y.], May 19, 1896

LILLIAN RUSSELL'S UNLUCKY CYCLING, Thrown from Her Golden Wheel and There Are Disastrous Consequences.

In Collision with Another Bicycler Where Miss Schumacher Was Killed.
She Sprains an Ankle Badly, and That Is Only the Beginning of Her Troubles.

THEY ENSUE ON A HARLEM STAGE, While Singing in the "Little Duke" Her Ankle Weakens and She and Fred Solomon Fall Flat Before the Audience.

Lillian Russell, diva and wheelwoman, played an engagement with her famous golden bicycle at Manhattan avenue and West One Hundred and Sixth street yesterday afternoon that had not been advertised, and that very nearly resulted In serious injury to the noted singer.

By a strange coincidence her contretemps took place just at the place where Miss Theodora Schumacher met her death April 30, and Miss Russell, who is not at all superstitious, now says she believes "In that sort of thing a little bit."

Miss Russell went for her usual ride in Central Park yesterday afternoon. She wore a tan bicycle suit that fitted as if she had been melted and run Into it, and the gold lace with which it was trimmed was just sufficient In quantity to suggest the pomp and circumstance of the stage.


To the gay throng of riders and drivers along the West Drive the fair Lillian never looked prettier. She sped along at a merry pace, threading her way In and out of the procession of T-carts, broughams, phaetons and other park traps without self-consciousness. Every one turned to look after the well-rounded figure, and the gorgeous bicycle upon which it was so advantageously set off.

"She may lose her voice," It was remarked, "but so long as she has that bicycle we will adore her still."

That was but one of the comments her appearance called forth.

Miss Russell turned out of the Park at the One Hundred and Sixth street gate leaving tho policeman there bewildered by one of those smiles that it is her habit to bestow with such effectiveness.

A scorcher ice wagon was coming up Manhattan avenue at a pace that should have called for police interference. Miss Russell saw it. but she could not see the bicycler who, just at its far side, was riding hard to beat the Iceman and so rebuke the entire Iceman fraternity.


"Hi, there!" shouted the driver.

Miss Russell took that as her cue to dodge, and her experience having led her to be prompt when she hears her cue she wheeled suddenly to the left. The Iceman tried to pull up as best he could and his horses just missed the distinguished rider.

Rut the bicycler beyond had no time. He had not seen Lillian nor the glitter of her golden wheel and he ran full into her. There were yells from bystanders and the two bicycles seemed to be doing a golden skirt dance in which some hosiery was shown. Prom out the confusion came feminine Grand Duchesse's screams. The ice man pulled up and ran to solve the golden puzzle. Bystanders and a policeman also came, and with difficulty Miss Russell was extricated from the Involved situation. She was bruised and the pretty costume was pretty no longer. Her ankle hurt her, and the golden wheel was as If it were a game of jackstraws in which the trick was to pick out the back bone.

The man apologized so nicely that Miss Russell refused to make a complaint against him. The Iceman called a cab and the diva was helped into It and driven to her house, at No. 318 West Seventy-seventh street.

The article goes on to talk about her performances after this incident, which were affected by the injury to her ankle somewhat.

As it happens, the illustration in the article was taken from the photograph used to produce this item from the Library of Congress photograph collections - Lillian Russell is at the lower right:

Actresses Bicycle Riders

Title-Actresses as bicycle riders [7 illustrations of actresses with bicycles: 1. Effie Ellsler; 2. Cissy Fitzgerald; 3. Anna Held; 4. Queenie Vassar; 5. Mrs. James Brown Potter; 6. Miss Georgia Cayvan; 7. Miss Lillian Russell
Date Created/Published-1896.
Medium-7 prints : halftone.
Call Number: Illus. in AP2.L52 1896 (Case Y) [P&P]

Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
* Halftone repros. of photoprint.
* Title and other information transcribed from caption card.
* Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, vol. 83 (1896 Dec. 3), p. 365.
* Caption card tracings: Sports Bicycles; Women ; Actresses; B.I.

Reading the wikipedia description of Lillian Russell, it turns out she was influential in a law passed in 1924 to limit immigration from certain parts of Eastern Europe (from which some of my in-laws ancestors came) as well as entirely from Asia. So while I guess I will publish this blog post it is not intended as a celebration of her views on that. At all.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Eliza Jane - A Woman Cyclist of 1895

Celebrated in song.

About this Item:
Title-Eliza Jane.
Created / Published-Boston, Massachusetts, c1895, monographic.
Genre-song sheet
Repository-American Song Sheets Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections


Complete Song, Words and Music, 40 Cents.

I. Eliza Jane she had a wheel, its rim was painted red;
Eliza had another wheel that turned inside her head.
She put the two together, she gave them both a whirl,
And now she rides the Parkway sides a Twentieth Century Girl.


"Oh, have you seen Eliza Jane a-cycling in the park?
"Oh, have you seen Eliza Jane?" The people all remark.
They shout "Hi! hi!" as she rides by; the little doggies bark,
For we all have a pain when Eliza Jane goes cycling in the park.

II. No more do skirts enfold her, tho' much her papa grieves,
But baggy trousers hold her in their big pneumatic sleeves;
For where you see the bloomers bloom she sits her wheel astride;
She makes a sight would stop a fight as in the park she rides.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

III. This is emancipation year, the woman movement's on;
Eliza plans to be a man, 'tis sad to think upon.
She thinks she needs the ballot now her freedom to enhance,
She wants to pose in papa's clothes; it is for this she pants.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

IV. Eliza had a nice young man, (Alas! 'twas long ago.)
As gay and fair, as debonair, as any man you know;
He saw her ride in bloomers, he screamed and quickly fled,
And as he ran, this nice young man in trembling accents said:

Ooooh, have you seen, etc.

V. Eliza's ma no longer speaks unto Eliza Jane,
She claims that dime museum freaks give her a sense of pain.
Her dad no longer cashes checks but wanders in the streets,
And thus he cries, in sad surprise, to everyone he meets:

Oh, have you seen, etc.

VI. Eliza's brothers saw her ride, and each one took to drink:
They made it flow to drown their woe, so that they need not think;
But there are woes that will not drown, not even in a well,
And in the worst of their great thirst Eliza hears them yell:

( Hic ), Wow! Have you seen, etc.

VII. Eliza to her tailor went, to try her bloomers on;
She came out from the dressing room and said with angry frown:
"These blooming bloomers do not fit!" The tailor said, Oh, law!
Excuse me, lady, but you've got them on hind-side before!"

Oh, have you seen, etc.

VIII. Eliza Jane has learned to swear since she became a man,
And when she finds it suits her mind she says her little—Rats!
It isn't very often that she feels that swear she must,
But she says it and she means it when her little tire's bust.
Oh, have you seen, etc.

IX. No more upon her red rimmed wheel the fair Eliza flirts,
No more she rides the Parkway sides in bi-fur-ca-ted skirts;
A park policeman ran her in one day in early Spring,
Because he thought Eliza taught the little birds to sing:

Oh, have you seen, etc.

X. Eliza dear, we sadly fear you have not started right;
You will not see more liberty by being such a fright;
Asylums yawn for you, my dear, and in the books we read,
How bloomers that too early bloom soon fade and go to seed.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

From Songs of Suffrage where it explains:

With the introduction of the safety bicycle (the first modern bicycle) in the 1880s, women found a need for clothing that would allow them the freedom to ride. Susan B. Anthony was quoted in an interview as saying, "I'll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood."[1] Women on bicycles were the object of humorous songs, some risqué, that marveled at the sight of a woman in trousers. "Eliza Jane," is a song published on a song sheet in 1895 that brings together the bloomers, the desire to vote, and the freedom of riding a bicycle, with lyrics that explain the scandalous risks the young lady was taking.

Puck Magazine - Bicycle = "Dress Reform" 1895

Title: The bicycle - the great dress reformer of the nineteenth century! / Ehrhart.
Creator(s): Ehrhart, S. D. (Samuel D.), ca. 1862-1937, artist
Date Created/Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1895 August 7.
Medium: 1 print : chromolithograph.
Summary: Print shows a man and a woman wearing knickers and bloomers, standing with a bicycle between them, shaking hands; to the right and left are examples of nineteenth century fashion.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-29031 (digital file from original print)
Notes: Title from item.
Illus. from Puck, v. 37, no. 961, (1895 August 7), centerfold.
Library of Congress

Monday, September 5, 2016

All Possible Bike Accessories

"All possible accessories"
A bike of 1896 shown equipped with all possible accessories
Title-The journal, May 10, 1896
Place of Publication-New York [N.Y.]
Library of Congress
"I wonder what a bicycle would look like equipped with all the accessories that are advertised!"

The Wheel has undertaken to gratify the curious. The illustration shows just how a wheel would look under the conditions stated. The picture is not overdrawn. Every accessory that is shown is actually on the market and offered for sale. Enumerated they are as follows: Lamp, bell, pneumatic brake, double handle-bar, canopy, camera, luggage carrier, waterproof cape, watch and watch holder, match box, speed Indicator, cyclometer, fork pump, continuous alarm (on front axle), balancer, cradle spring, child's seat, anatomical saddle, back support, rubber, mud-guards, handle-bar buffer, tool bag, tourists' case, spring pedals, toe clips, portable stand, changeable gear, gear case and temporary tire repairer. Twenty-nine articles in all. The Wheel

Today the possible accessory choices boggle the mind. I happened up the site of a newish bike company that offers as options:

Safety Features

Front/rear lights
Turn Signals
Intuitive brake light
Laser emitted “bike lane”
Front and rear camera
Collision detection

Tech Features

Built-in WiFi Hotspot
USB ports to power devices
Bluetooth Connectivity
GPS and Anti-theft Protection
Centralized Battery System
Power Generation Systems
App supported​

Low Maintenance

Make our bikes “hassle-free”
Belt drive
Less wear than a chain
No oil needed
Internally geared hub
Ease of shifting
No derailleur
No “cross chain” issues
All cables and power sources built into the frame​

Good Lord. I don't think that more complex systems than cars are equipped with (such as laser generated "bike lanes" you provide for yourself) make much sense but I could be wrong about that but I'm absolutely sure front and rear cameras are not safety equipment, they are a tool for assuring better results if you end up in court, and maybe as a way to record some travels for amusement's sake.

I guess Tech Features is to be understood as "distractions for when you are stopped" (or at least most of it). I particularly like "power general systems" in the plural. Whatever.

The low maintenance aspects - well, I guess that there is something to some of that, but there are always tradeoffs - and TANSTAAFL.

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Aid for Injured Wheelmen (the 1896 Advice)

Accidents happen, to all sorts of people, including Sir Richard Branson as well as more regular folks - and have since the first years of cycling. This article's presentation of corrective first aid measures seems pretty intense!

First Aid for Injured Wheelmen
The Journal, May 10, 1896, New York [N.Y.] Library of Congress

In the same way with the vast army of bicycle riders. The chance of Injury to any particular person at any particular time is very small, indeed, but when an accident does occur, as with the railroad, we agree In regarding bicycling as a very dangerous sport. The bicycle is new to the human race, but the body, with its nervous system, its heart, its lungs, and all its other organs, is the same old machine. The condition in which a patient is found after a fearful fall from an 1896 model bicycle presents the same symptoms, involves the same principles and calls for the same remedies as if he had been hurled from a chariot In the first century.
The article goes on in considerable detail, which can be read here. Yikes!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Women as Early Bike Commuters

I copied a long first person description of the work of a NYC "bike cop" from 1896 into a blog post, Adventures of NYC "Bike Cop" of 1896.

Towards the end, there is this paragraph:

Teamsters [here meaning the drivers of horse-drawn wagons, the the-equivalent of trucks] make most of our trouble. The manner In which heavy trucks and freight wagons of all kinds swarm to the Boulevard in the morning hours, when there are thousands of cyclists, four out of five of whom are ladies, is most exasperating. On Sunday, when the asphalt is covered with wheel riders, what satisfaction can there be in driving a carriage or buggy into their midst? It looks like sheer contrariness. The hostility shown by many truck and wagon drivers against cyclists is of that mean nature that is found in envy of those who seem to be getting some pleasure out of life.

While the "four out of five" is not a scientific survey, it suggests many women in 1896 were commuting to work by bicycle, since it is doubtful they were out on weekday mornings for some other reason.

This 1899 film of employees leaving a Parke Davis factory in Detroit suggests also that women were bicycle commuters in those pre-automobile days. Presumably most of the manufacturing employees were men and the women in this video (given their attire) were the clerical staff? So their percentage of the total number of commuters is likely relative to their percentage of the number of workers there overall.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Adventures of NYC "Bike Cop" of 1896

Illustration for first person narrative from a "bike cop" in New York City

Title-The Journal, June 28, 1896
Place of Publication-New York [N.Y.]

This newspaper is described as follows: The New York Journal is an example of "Yellow Journalism," where the newspapers competed for readers through bold headlines, illustrations, and activist journalism. During 1896, the year of the so-called "bicycle craze," I see significant coverage of cycling, although the emphasis in on human interest and odd-ball stories, not about bicycle racing.

This long report from a NYC bicycle police officer is interesting for what it says about the times.


New York's Fastest Bicycle Policeman Writes of His Exciting Struggles With Runaway Horses and Hot Pursuits of Habitual Scorchers.

The Cop has come to stay. There will be more and more of him. The experiment of a bicycle squad has been so eminently satisfactory that the force is about to be materially increased. The fastest rider and most skillful wheelman of the force is Patrolman John J. Gilles, who has written for the Journal readers a very interesting narrative of his experiences as a Cop.

To the Editor of the Journal: On December 10 last I was detailed as a member of the bicycle squad of the New lork City Police Department and assigned to duty on the Boulevard from One Hundred and Eighth Street south as far as Forty-second street and Eighth avenue. In nearly seven months' service I have made many arrests. Of that let the police records speak; but I may point to the fact that although I have ridden in that time about 1,400 hours and covered over 11,000 miles, I have had but three bicycles injured, and only one of them beyond the hope of repair. In these instances I was deliberately run over once by a drunken cabman, and in the other two the damage was caused by runaway horses, which I succeeded in stopping. Stopping runaways is as much in my line as overhauling scorchers.

I had been riding a wheel for seven years before I was detailed to the bicycle squad. Let me state for the benefit of ambitious young who intend to come my way that my wheel is geared to 77, and that I can pedal my fifth mile as fast as my first, and that they will discover that every bicycle policeman has been selected because he can do a little 'scorching' himself.

It has fallen to my lot to have had more sensational experiences with runaway horses than my associates. I wish I could describe in words the feelings that take possession of me when, on my wheel, I am making a run against a maddened horse, perhaps to save life, as has been my good fortune, or to convince some reckless and often malicious driver that laws are not made to be broken. I may briefly refer to a few of my experiences. One of the [missing text] I had out of the ordinary was [missing text] of Pat Flavey, a plumber, [missing text] stolen a pair of shoes down on [missing text] Avenue. He was on the run when [missing text] with a crowd in pursuit. He was a sprinter for fair, and was rapidly drawing away from the crowd, in half a block I was ordered him to stop. He kept right on. Then I made a quick turn and struck him fairly with my front wheel. He went down together. He was up first and about to make off, when I used the shoes which he had dropped as a billy, and that brought him around.

The most serious adventure I have yet had was in the arrest of Patrick Curry, a cabman, with a pair of horses. Curry was apparently drunk, and had lashed his horses into a dead run. Ho bore down directly after me. Before I could swerve he had run into me, and my wheel was a wreck, while I was thrown, cut and bruised, to the street, and narrowly escaped the horses' hoofs. I hailed a passing cab, and, mounting the seat, started in pursuit. Curry was too fast for me. He ran into me at Sixty-eighth street. At Sixty-third street I jumped from the cab very hastily, borrowed a wheel from an astonished cyclist, and then we had a pretty chase down to Fifty-ninth street, and thence east to Sixth avenue, where I ran alongside, grasped the reins, and soon stopped the panting, foam-covered horse. This man Curry, who had nearly killed me, was fined $3 - just the same amount as four young men whom I arrested later the same evening.

In the recent stoppage of a runaway team and carriage containing Louis Mack, a well-known Eighth avenue merchant, and his wife, my wheel was totally wrecked. A forefoot of the nigh horse became entangled in the spokes of the fore wheel when I ran alongside. I was able to hold on by the head strap, and the team dragged me less than forty feet. Of course it was a very unequal struggle for a while, but I brought the horses to a standstill without a scratch but my wheel was a sight.

In running alongside of a runaway the great danger is in the fouling of the fore wheel. If this happens, it means the destruction of your wheel, and your only salvation is to hold on to the bridle until the horse stops. If you retain your seat and keep a steady grip with one hand on the centre of your handle bar, the machine will swerve only with the movements of the horse. There is danger, of course, but that is all In the business.

The bicycle squad of four has now been enlarged to thirteen, and so well pleased are the Commissioners with the results of an innovation of which Commissioner Andrews was the chief advocate, that it is generally understood that the Board is prepared to increase the steel-mounted force to forty and ultimately to extend it through out the annexed district. The Park Com missioners are also delighted with the work of the bicycle detail from their special police force, as well they may be, for several of the gray-coated force have valiant deeds to their credit.

I do not believe that the equestrian branch of the police service will ever be entirely displaced by a cycle corps, but there is no question-and the United States Army authorities will bear testimony-that for much of the service that cavalry are supposed to be especially fitted for, cyclists are in many respects superior. The longer the journey the better do the cyclists show up in the comparison. I refer, of course, to foraging and courier service, exploration, laying of field telegraph and telephone lines, scouting, and Weather Bureau observations.

To keep the police idea in mind, and presupposing that a police force and good roads are found together, there can be no question as to the superiority of the silent steel steed over that of the steed that eats oats, drinks water and must pause every few miles for rest. The cyclist who has ridden fifty miles is in far better physical condition than the cavalryman who has made a forced march of one-third the distance.

In the matter of patrolling, the cyclist will cover four miles-yes, more than that the horseman's one, and still be fresh and ready for more work. Ton miles an hour is slow work for what I believe the public generally calls the "bike cop." The hours of duty of the bicycle police at present are from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. and 5 p. m. to midnight. My cyclometer shows an average travel during the seven hours of fifty-five miles dally. During much of that time a proper performance of duty requires that I should pedal over my post as slowly as possible, keeping a careful eye out for violations of the law I am especially charged to enforce.

I must be ready always to do a little scorching on very short notice. When I need my speed, I am like the fellow and his pistol In Texas-I want it bad. I can make a road mile in two minutes and twenty-five seconds, and have had occasion to do so more than once in the performance of my duty. Two twenty-five will overhaul most any road scorching, and I will be pardoned when I indulge in a little self-congratulation on my ability to generally round up the fast young men who deliberately come out on to the Boulevard to have fun with the "cop."

There is not so much of that nowadays as there was early in the Spring. Then the young fellow who thought that he was a recqrd-breaker would notify his friends to be on hand to see the fun. I got so that I knew when there had been a little race informally arranged for and with me. I could tell it by the manner of the wheelmen who so innocently loafed about in my vicinity. I never let on, but waited until the "scoot" flashed by me. I don't want to boast, but no one of these has got away. I had the last, and consequently the best, laugh.

I have been given some very interesting and very long chases, especially when they have put tandems up against me. But I could afford the time for a stern chase, and sooner or later, I had my scorchers and let them make their excuses and apologies in court. Some of the men whom I have arrested for deliberately breaking the law were the most indignant, and denied flatly that they were moving at a rapid rate. I recall the case of one man who, when on trial before the Special Sessions, overdid the thing by swearing that his wheel was not going faster than three miles an hour. The Judge who knows something about wheeling, told the defendant that if he could prove his ability to ride a wheel at as slow a rate as three miles an hour, he would discharge him. As a matter of fact, it would take a trick rider to do that.

My observations on the Boulevard are that the average speed of the cyclist out for pleasure is fully ten miles an hour. He or she does not know it, but it is a fact.

For a lot of people above the average in intelligence, cyclists are very slow to learn that the regulations as to speed, alarm bells and lighted lamps are made for their own good. I will not say that I have found women unreasonable as a class. A lady need only be warned that she is violating [line repeats] need only be warned that she is violating [end repeat] is accidental. From others I have learned to expect a fine show of indignation. But the young men! Oh, the hundreds of times, to hear them tell it, I was to be broken for doing my plain duty! I did not realize how many influential people there were in New York, men who could make or unmake a policeman by a turn of the finger, until I began to enforce the lamp, bell and speed ordinance. But here I am still, what is left of me.

I will state right here that no one is going to get fat on the bicycle squad, Thirty pounds of my good adipose tissue has gone somewhere. The lot of the bicycle cop is not altogether a happy one, even if I he has but a seven hour watch. That seven hours is seven hours, and it often means a hundred miles of travel on a Sunday.

As to the cyclists themselves, they are no longer much trouble, except the 'scorchers' and I suppose there will be 'scorchers' as long as there are low foreheads. The lamps used now are less likely to go out than formerly. We have also succeeded in convincing the fancy trick riders that the stage and not the Boulevard is the place for them. It was necessary to arrest Ernest Nagle twice in one day before he learned his fault in this regard.

Teamsters make most of our trouble. The manner In which heavy trucks and freight wagons of all kinds swarm to the Boulevard in the morning hours, when there are thousands of cyclists, four out of five of whom are ladles, is most exasperating. On Sunday, when the asphalt is covered with wheel riders, what satisfaction can there be in driving a carriage or buggy into their midst? It looks like sheer contrariness. The hostility shown by many truck and wagon drivers against cyclists is of that mean nature that is found in envy of those who seem to be getting some pleasure out of life.

As a bicycle policeman I prefer to be looked upon as a defender of the rights of bicyclists. I am a believer in special bicycle paths. I would be glad to see the Boulevard turned over to the Park Department, and then heavy hauling or all vehicles drawn by horses can be excluded from it. That cannot be done now, and all that we can do is to try to enforce the spirit of the law of the road, which requires drivers to keep to the right. In the matter of the Boulevard, we construe this to mean to the right of the parked slip in the centre. In this the police have not been sustained by all the Police Magistrates. They differ materially in the treatment extended to offending cyclists and aggressive teamsters.

The public must have been surprised at the lightness of the penalties inflicted upon several drivers who were arrested after desperate resistance for imperiling the lives of hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians.

I hold that an expert on a bicycle can do more effective work in stopping runaway or recklessly driven horses than a man mounted on a horse, and he need not wreck a machine every time he makes a capture. The ability to protect his machine Is an essential qualification of the bicycle policeman. One of the original squad was sent back to patrol duty after wrecking five machines in less than that number of weeks.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bicycle News of 1896 - the Oddities

The Journal full page on cycling 1896
Image of the full page 40 of The Journal, newly online

This newspaper is described as follows: The New York Journal is an example of "Yellow Journalism," where the newspapers competed for readers through bold headlines, illustrations, and activist journalism. During 1896, the year of the so-called "bicycle craze," I see significant coverage of cycling, although there seems a heavy emphasis on oddities. All the stories on the page are about cycling.

The Journal page on cycling 1896 - detail, child's tandem
A tiny tandem is considered unusual enough to merit a news item

The Journal page on cycling 1896 - detail, bike with trailer for baby
Cyclist with a baby carriage trailer, again considered unusual

The Journal page on cycling 1896 - detail, child's bike
A three year old cyclist - a very young "scorcher"

Link to full page with text of stories for these illustrations.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Some Grim Cyclists From 1896

Donaldson Bicycle Lithos [of 1896]
Title: The Donaldson bicycle lithos for the season of 1896

Creator(s): Donaldson Lith. Co., lithographer
Date Created/Published: Cincinnati : Donaldson Litho Co., [ca. 1896]
Medium: 1 print ; chromolithograph ; 28 9/16 x 42 1/4 in.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-08976 (digital file from original print)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: PGA - Donaldson--Donaldson bicycle lithos... (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

This is a poster advertising the lithographic services of the Donaldson Company in 1896. The riders depicted are noteworthy for their grim expressions. Or perhaps just determined.

Some of these sorts of posters on the Library of Congress web site were digitized from film reproductions, not from the original, and the color is often not quite right and they are otherwise not great. Good, but not great. This however was more recently digitized from the original item which is 42+ inches across, so it is a pretty nice digital reproduction. Not so noticeable perhaps from the JPEG I copied from the site, but there is a high resolution TIFF image there you can download if you want (which is 58.7 mb).

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Maxfield Parrish Bicycle Images of 1896

1896 Harpers Weekly "bicycle number" [issue] cover and ad

Title: Harper's Weekly, bicycle number
Creator(s): Parrish, Maxfield, 1870-1966, artist
Date Created/Published: Hartford : Pope Manufacturing Co., [1896].
Medium: 1 print : color ; sheet 41 x 58 cm (poster format)
* Title from item.
* Back cover: Columbia bicycles insure cycling delight. Standard of the world.
* Images published in Harper's Weekly on April 11, 1896.
* Forms part of the Artist poster filing series (Library of Congress)

The image of the young woman on a bicycle was the cover for a special bicycle issue for Harpers Weekly for April 11, 1896. 1896 was the height of the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s. Unfortunately I can't find a full text issue of that issue online that isn't part of a commercial product. Hmmm.

The image of the young man on a bicycle to the left was an ad that was part of the special issue, for Columbia Bicycles.

I was able to determine the date of publication for the particular issue and asked that the information be added to this record in the LC system, which it was.

The bike shown on the cover of the issue is from the same angle and looks about the same as the one in the ad, but lacks the distinctive headbadge of a Columbia bicycle. Well, it is on the cover, not part of an ad. While what little is visible of the bikes is accurate looking, one wonders if Mr. Parrish ever rode a bike - it seems surprising to show riders with their thumbs not wrapped around the handlebars. But then if you weren't going to be pulling on handbrakes, maybe it would seem more natural to ride this way.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Happy Days of Riding - 1896 Washington State Example

From my alma mater, the University of Washington - "H. Ambrose Kiehl and his daughter, Laura Kiehl, on a bicycle, Washington"J

I found this in the Flickr Commons. It appears the daughter is sitting on the top tube side-saddle (in effect).

Below is a father-son photo from roughly the same time taken on the other side of the world.

Unidentified father and son posing with a bicycle for a travelling photographer - from the State Library Queensland (Australia)

The first photo is posed to give the impression of what the pair would look like while riding, but they are leaning up against a fence. The second photo presumably was intended as a posed family portrait and would have been provided to the purchaser in a cropped version, but this uncropped copy with the second child peering in from the side is more entertaining for us now, looking back. Bicycles were often used as props in photographs of the time so it is not obvious that this bicycle even belonged to these folks.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Indoor Trainer From 1896

Very little (that isn't digital, or made of carbon fiber) for bicycles is all that new.

Page with ad as printed.
RIDE ON THE STURGIS HOME TRAINER The most startling thing of its kind ever invented. You simply put your own wheel [bicycle] on, mount, and ride straight ahead, just as you would on path or track. No fastening or support of any kind. Very little noise. Rollers are connected, and power is transmitted by chain; steel bearings; rollers are adjustable to resistance.
It is interesting that this photograph, part of an ad for this new product, was taken outdoors when the product was intended for indoor use. Since this publication was not for cyclists but for the bicycle "trade," it emphasizes the possibility of bicycle sellers to use this device for teaching new riders how to ride a bicycle, but the "testimonial" in the ad also talks about the usefulness as a training method.