Showing posts with label photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photos. Show all posts

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Family Portrait with Bicycles

Homer (LOC)
The Homer Family, between 1915 and 1920, with bicycles

The smaller children have tricycles that are sized for their age, but the older daughters have what are I think adult bicycles. Fairly clearly they are not the same model of bike, or even from the some company, since the head badges are different.

The Homers were a fairly well-to-off family financially, it seems. Louise Homer was a opera singer and recording star and her husband was a composer. These photos and others were from the Bain News Service collection at the Library of Congress and perhaps were for some article about Homer's home life and family, thus bringing the bicycle and tricycles into a photo.

Homer (LOC)
Here by contrast they are smiling

Sunday, November 20, 2016

After the [Bicycle] Ride (1897)

After the [Bicycle] Ride-1897
After the Ride

Title: After the ride
Creator(s): Harmon, F. T., copyright claimant
Date Created/Published: c1897.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Photograph shows man drinking from a glass and holding a piece of cake while sitting on door of icebox; bicycle at left.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-11780 (b&w film copy neg.)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: SSF - Interiors -- Kitchens -- 1897 [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Title from item.
Eating & drinking--1890-1900.

Somewhat oddly, the subject headings don't include anything about the bicycle, but at least the bicycle is mentioned in the "summary" - "bicycle at left."

Apparently the cyclist shown was wanting some refreshment after an early "tweed ride" (or "tweed run" - where today cyclists dress up to evoke early cyclists and their attire).

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"Paying for his Fun" - Bike Repairs

Pays for Fun
Title: Paying for his fun

Summary-Man working on bicycle wheel.
Created / Published- [between 1890 and 1899]
Subject Headings
- Bicycles & tricycles--1890-1900
- Wheels--1890-1900
- Cleaning--1890-1900
Format Headings-Photographic prints--1890-1900.
Notes-Copyright by F.T. Harmon.
Medium-1 photographic print.
Call Number/Physical Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

It is a somewhat amusing notion reflected in this photograph from the 1890s that the bicycle rider "pays" for his fun - riding the bike - by spending time fixing the bike. Of course in the 1890s bikes were manufactured with lower tolerances and for a given amount of riding I would assume more repairs were required than for a good quality bike made today.

Still, for the most part I find working on my bikes to be relaxing, although I mostly do fairly basic stuff. I don't do anything with bottom brackets, headsets, or truing wheels. (I guess some people might say that doesn't leave much . . . )

Recently I had a little crash - I managed to end up with both the front and rear wheels out of true on the bike I was riding. I noticed the problem with the rear wheel immediately and got it fixed but it took me a while to realize the front wheel was a bit off - then I had it fixed also.

For me, paying someone to do certain repairs is better than the aggravation/frustration of trying to do it myself without having the right tools or much experience. I'm quite lucky since there is a shop about a mile away, Spokes Etc, where there is a dedicated wheel builder and "wheel mechanic", Bill Mould, who for 20 dollars will correct any true a wheel, putting in in one plane but also making sure it is still round.

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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Washington Boy Shows Joy of Cycling

Boy on Bicycle (in Washington DC, 1890s)

Digitized image from a glass plate negative that shows some degradation. It was likely taken at a studio in the late 1890s. The descriptive record does not have an exact date. Studios sometimes had a bicycle and subjects would be posed sitting on a bike that belonged to the studio, but this I think this may have been the boy's bike - you wouldn't think a studio bike would have a headlight, and the front tire is quite dirty. But that's just a guess. He looks quite happy!

Title-Boy on bicycle
Contributor Names-C.M. Bell (Firm : Washington, D.C.), photographer
Created / Published-[between 1873 and ca. 1916]
Format Headings
Glass negatives.
Portrait photographs.
Portrait photographs
Glass negatives
- Title is unverified name of sitter or person who ordered the photograph, from handwritten label on negative sleeve or negative.
- Date based on span of years of C.M. Bell Collection.
- Negative number assigned by Library.
- Gift; American Genetic Association, 1975.
- General information about the C.M. Bell Collection is available at
- Temp note: Batch 55.
Medium-1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in.
Source Collection-C.M. Bell Studio Collection (Library of Congress)
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How Photos and Articles Appeared Across the Nation

Alvey Adee of Dept of State & Bicycle
The original photograph in the Library of Congress collections

The above image of the Department of State official, who happened to be someone who rode to and from work every day on a bicycle.

Adee article example 1
The photograph used in 1914 about Adee's trip to France, published in The Greenville Journal newspaper in July 1914

These kinds of short articles were distributed nationally by different services and often were used to fill up pages with human interest material. In the above version Harris & Ewing (the photography house) was given credit.

Adee article example 2
And the Grand Forks Daily Herald . . .

A rather more cropped version of the photograph and a shorter version of the text, above. They needed to fill up some of the page, but not so much.

Adee article example 3
And the Dakota Farmers Leader

This paper made use of the item as supplied, it would seem, like the first version. The darkness of the photograph in this last example has to do with the quality of the microfilm and (probably) not any real differences in how the photographs would have looked on newsprint.

One sees this sort of thing from time to time in Chronicling America, the searchable database of American newspapers from many states provided by the Library of Congress. Occasionally even involving bicycles!

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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Christmas Bicycle - Washington DC Example

Christmas of 1930. Norma Horydczak on bicycle in front of Christmas tree, wide view

This photograph comes from the The Horydczak Collection at the Library of Congress and is of the photographer's daughter at collection - few of the photographs digitized are personal ones as this is. Most of his photographs do not feature bicycles, but there are nine that do.

A DC scene with bicycles from Horydczak, exact year unknown

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kids & Bikes in 1917 DC News Photo

Dewey funeral photo, from the Bain News Collection (Library of Congress)

Admiral George Dewey's funeral procession - Saturday January 20, 1917. Looks like a street such as East Capitol, on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Detail from photo shows two boys with their bicycles

While children's bicycles were certainly produced during this period, like many photographs one sees of children with bikes, these boys have bicycles intended for adults that are by the usual sizing guidance much too large. Apparently once one was ten years old or so, an adult bike was considered close enough in size to work.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More 1921 Free Bikes for DC Youth

I did a blog post the other day on this subject - the District of Columbia newspaper The Washington Times in 1921-1922 gave children bicycles if they sold a certain number of newspaper subscriptions. As far as I can tell, they sold the subscriptions but did not then deliver the papers. The Library of Congress later received these glass plate negatives as a gift collection. The Washington Times would occasionally publish photographs of subjects like this with captions to encourage others to emulate their sales efforts.

Another digitized photo of a young woman who received such a bike

Although targeted at children, some of those who received such bikes were a bit older.

This photograph as published in the Washington Times of July 18 1921

This digitized photo shows a rather younger boy - he looks a little doubtful for some reason

I have not found this particular one in the online version of the Washington Times in

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Washington Times - Bikes for Subscription Sales

A "Times Girl" with her new bicycle in 1921

The newspaper The Washington Times in 1921-1922 gave children bicycles if they sold a certain number of newspaper subscriptions. As far as I can tell, they sold the subscriptions but did not then deliver the papers. The Library of Congress later received these glass plate negatives as part of a gift collection.

The Washington Times would occasionally publish photographs of subjects like this with captions to encourage others to emulate their sales efforts. I have not found this particular one in the online version of the Washington Times in

This bike seems a little large for her but she looks very determined. I have cropped the image as presented on the LC website to provide more detail.

For a bicycle earned by selling newspaper subscriptions, this looks like a reasonably nice bike - it has a battery powered headlight and what seems like a horn (?) on the front handlebars. Since this is a ladies model, it has some screening (or what look like more spokes) to keep skirts out of the rear wheel as well as a full chain guard. I think there is a tire pump running up the left side of the seat tube, too.

A "Times Boy" (and friend, or brother) and new bike, also in 1921

Certain aspects of this photograph as presented on the LC website as a medium size JPEG caused me to think there was some artifacting (degradation of the image) in the conversion from the high resolution TIFF image produced from the glass plate negative. I downloaded the TIFF and produced my own JPEG and it has the same issues but the bicycle itself is shown better. I also cropped the photograph in somewhat to emphasize the bicycle.

Quite the handlebars! A "Ranger" - apparently that was the manufacturer and not the model.

Full page ad for this promotion in 1922
Your youngsters are longing for a bicycle now, and they can get one free, the very finest kind that money can buy. The Times is offering your boy or girl a wonderful opportunity to earn a $55 Ranger Bicycle at no cost. They collect no money, pay no money. No Red Tape, bicycle delivered promptly by The Hecht Co., Washington representatives, promptly when 15 new 6 months' subscriptions to The Washington Times are secured and verified.
The Washington Times newspaper was published until the late 1930s and has absolutely no connection with the present-day Washington Times. The bicycles were provided by The Hecht Company, a local department store chain that was acquired by whatever chain owns Macy's - the last stores carrying the Hecht Co. name disappeared in the last ten years.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A "Sociable Bicycle" from 1892 in 1922

Human interest photo from Washington Times issue, April 21 1922

This sort of bicycle was introduced in the 1890s as a way of resolving various issues likely perceived with men and women sharing conventional tandems - basically, shouldn't the woman ride in front? One attempt to deal with this was to rig up handlebars for the rider in back that also controlled the steering. Anyway, the Punnett "companion side-seated bicycle" was an attempt to solve the problem by putting the riders on a single two-wheel frame bicycle next to each other.

This bicycle never caught on, of course, presumably because of the manufacturing cost combined with the dexterity to ride it (or perhaps just the appearance that dexterity would be required?) and the relative simplicity of a more standard tandem, despite the "who sits in front" issue.

Thus in the 1920s this bicycle would be featured as a human interest item - although I think the Washington Times got the date wrong; I think these bicycles were introduced only in 1896, not 1892.

Ad for side-by-side Punnett tandem shown from 1896

Despite ads in publications and articles written about this clever bicycle, it never caught on.

One comment - the age of the bike isn't that big a deal, at least not for a well-maintained bicycle.

Thirty year-old bicycle that I ride much of the time to and from work

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1922 Department of Agriculture Police Officer Rides a Bike

The 82 year old cycling policeman - it keeps him young?

The Washington Evening Star., August 13, 1922 has a human interest photo item about a police officer with the Department of Agriculture who rides a bike at work. And not only that, he is 82 years old and has worked for 59 years, under eight different secretaries of Agriculture.

At this distance in time, it is hard to know which of the various elements mentioned would have been considered the most unusual. That he rides a bike at 82? Or that he has worked for almost 60 years, and at that as a policeman? Or perhaps it is all of together.

The Library of Congress has the digitized negative from which the newspaper photograph was made!

In an earlier blog post I discovered a news story photograph from a DC newspaper issue from 1922 that I then serendipitously located the original of in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. With no particular hope of success, I searched for "Richard Cook" and I immediately found the same photo of him on his bicycle! Amazing! I was intrigued to see that unlike the previous example that was a Copyright deposit at the time (roughly) the photograph was taken, this was from a photographic collection that came to the Library in the 1940s as a gift. Well, whatever builds the collections - it's all good.

Title: Richard H. Cook, 7/29/22
Date Created/Published: [19]22 July 29.
Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-npcc-23223 (digital file from original)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: LC-F81- 19996 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
* Title from unverified data provided by the National Photo Company on the negative or negative sleeve.
* Gift; Herbert A. French; 1947.
* This glass negative might show streaks and other blemishes resulting from a natural deterioration in the original coatings.
[Or it might, in this case, show a big fingerprint from poor handling, but presumably (really) not by anyone at LC . . . ]
* Temp. note: Batch five.
[A "temp"orary note that will be in this record for the remaining time this record is online, however long that might be.]

One small complaint-like comment is that there is no subject heading-like or other mention in the PPOC record of "bicycle." That is, the simplest keyword search for bicycle will not include this photo in the results. I guess that makes finding it that much more delicious.

Detailed view of the photo

I produced the above JPEG by cropping in the downloadable TIFF image - there is a lot of detail available; if you zoom in further you can almost make out details of his police badge. You can see that there is a ring on the front wheel, presumably that has teeth, that connects with a cable that goes up to a handlebars - presumably this was at least provided an odometer function and likely also a speedometer, although there would be no obvious reason for him to track his speed! But it could have been that he was obligated to cover a certain distance on each work shift and this was a way of tracking that. It is a little overbuilt for that function since even in the 1890s odometers were available of a much simpler (and smaller) design - but this would have the information much more readily available while riding.

I was a bit puzzled by where this might be. At first I thought it was near the Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue, but I think it is up next to the Botanic Garden (also on Independence) and the smokestack behind is the Capitol Heating Plant.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1922 DC News Photo - Cyclist Listening to Radio on Bicycle

Fifteen year old DC cyclist has radio mounted on his bike

This comes from the Washington Times for September 4, 1922 - a page titled "Times picture page of live views and news." ("Live" is a relative term, it seems.) The page has a variety of human interest photographs with short explanatory captions.

The quality of the photo reflects that this image was digitized from microfilm that was never expected to serve as the source material for high resolution examination in this way. (Gee, I sound sorta like Nicholson Baker, God help us.)

Anyway, upon thoughtful examination of the image above (or you can zoom in with the PDF version) you can make out that young Murray has a radio fitted in the front triangle of the frame of the bicycle and a set of headphones connected to it by a long-ish cable. Just looking at the photo, the idea of someone riding a bicycle and listening to a radio in 1922 seems advanced but it appears that is not was going on - the caption notes that he "has a fully equipped radio outfit on his two-wheeler and wherever he parks he can cut in on the music." So he was only using this set up when stopped. (Considering that a radio at this time would have had glass tubes, the quality of the streets may have been better in those days.)

According to Wikipedia, radios were not commercially available for cars until the 1930s although hobbyists much like Murray with his bicycle were installing them in cars long before that. But this would have made the idea of a radio for a bicycle - even a parked bicycle - a human interest news item of local DC interest in 1922.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Loop-the-Loop Images - Finding Them

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Blog has a blog post that includes a digitized photograph of a cyclist performing a loop-the-loop on a bicycle in 1905. I had a blog post of my own describing the same thing, looking at images from Chronicling America (digitized newspapers) from 1902. I thought if these images were online I would have seen them, but apparently not.

Title: [Diavolo performing his bicycle daredevil act before a large audience]
Creator(s): Mathiessen, G. Fred, photographer
Date Created/Published: c1905.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Photograph shows a large crowd watching a man riding a bicycle upside down doing a loop and topsy turvy somersault.

Title: The Loop
Date Created/Published: c1903.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Man riding bicycle around loop, at circus.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-58887 (b&w film copy neg.)
Library of Congress

Title: Looping the Loop
Date Created/Published: c1903.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Person going around large upright loop on bicycle.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-89003 (b&w film copy neg.)
Library of Congress

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Striking Workers With Bicycles - 1916 Photograph

Sometimes it takes a little looking, and zooming in, to find photographs from 100 years ago (or so) of bicycles and cyclists.

Bain Collection photograph from Library of Congress of striking workers "on parade"
Catalog record:
Title - Cloak Makers Parade, 1916
Creator(s) - Bain News Service, publisher
Date Created/Published - 1916.
Medium - 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.
Reproduction Number - LC-DIG-ggbain-22182 (digital file from original negative)
Call Number: LC-B2- 3907-14 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
The catalog record does not indicate the inclusion in this photograph of cyclists, who are at left.

Detail from above photograph showing bicycles and cyclists in parade on this July day in 1916

A helpful Flickr user clarifies:
There is another (similar) photo in The evening world., July 08, 1916, Final Edition, Image 1 with the following text: "The picture shows the striking cloak and suit makers lined up before office of the Joint board, Cloak and Suit Makers' Union at No. 34 East Twenty-first Street, to draw their weekly allowance of $2 each. The line, four deep, reached down to Fourth Avenue and around into Twentieth Street. About $80,000 is paid to the strikers each week by the board." (

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Arlington County (VA) and Trail Plowing

March 9 I sent the following as an email to the Arlington Bike Coordinator; later I submitted a revised version to the County Board on their website.

It appears that over the winter the County decided to switch from salting trails to plowing. (I leave near Rt 7 and Walter Reed and ride down the trail along Walter Reed, then down the trail along Four Mile Run to the Mt Vernon trail and then in to DC that way.)

I am surprised by the timeliness of some of the plowing that happened - in particular, the that runs parallel to Walter Reed between Rt 7 and Arlington Mill Drive was plowed recently very quickly after the snow - this makes a lot of sense since if you are going to plow trails (and not salt), it should happen fast before the snow turns into ice from people walking on it.

The different this past week was very noticeable between the trails I use in Arlington and the Mt Vernon Trail, which was untreated and unplowed. The main thing was that the trails that were plowed become clear and useable by a regular bike quickly and the Mt Vernon trail was only rideable until Thursday either by riding very carefully or by having a bike with studded tires (which I have).

Plowing isn't a perfect solution - Tuesday in particular some trails had been plowed before my morning ride but the result was that the asphalt (with the 15 degree weather) was coated with a thin sheet of ice instead of a thicker layer of ice and snow so that a regular bike would not have traction - it would have been impossible to ride without studded tires. But by that afternoon the situation was already better, and Wednesday morning the Arlington trails were rideable (with care) while the Mt Vernon trail was not. Still, I think plowing is better than treating with salt etc.

The plowing is good. Thank you.
Plowed trail near my house - makes a big difference!

This kind of systematic effort to clear trails used by cyclists (and others, of course) following snow storms is new this year in Arlington, and there was enough snowy weather for some experimentation. The first round was to use salt/road treatment type applications on the trails, which isn't great if you want to walk a dog using the trail and also is hard on the bicycle and the surrounding environment since the salt/chemicals aren't confined to the trail (asphalt). Plowing is a lot better, and the County shifted to that, which is great.

Better still would be to have a little less snow.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cycle Chic by Mikael Colville-Andersen (Book Review)

Cycle ChicCycle Chic by Mikael Colville-Andersen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First - my five stars is because as I understand Goodreads, the idea for assigning stars is did I like the book and not is it a good book generally.

This a book of photographs with very little text, loosely organized thematically, from Mikael Colville-Andersen, the Copenhagen-based creator of the blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

The photographs are about the people in them and the bicycles they are with together, in support of the "Cycle Chic Manifesto". This manifesto declares things like, "I choose to cycle chic and, at every opportunity, I will choose Style over Speed" or "I will endeavour to ensure that the total value of my clothes always exceeds that of my bicycle" and "I will refrain from wearing and owning any form of 'cycle wear'."

The book includes hundreds of color photographs (and a very small number of B&W) taken all over the world, but predominately in Europe, in particular in Copenhagen. Most but not all were taken by Colville-Andersen and most appear unposed.

The role that such a (physical) book plays in our world today is an interesting (perhaps) question - one can see many of the kinds of photographs included in the book in the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog (or many of the similar blogs that Cycle Chic provides links to). One can also see
Colville-Andersen's photos
in his Flickr account (although there are plenty of non-bicycle photos there, too). I don't have an answer to this question - in this particular case, the book seems pleasing because it emphasizes the photographs one-by-one in a way that neither Flickr nor the blog presentations do, and allows for flipping around that the Internet still doesn't support.

Fun. Good.

View all my reviews of cycling books on Goodreads.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

DC Bike Messengers 100 Years Ago - 1912

In a blog post a few days ago, about some bicycle accidents in 1913 in Washington DC, I included a photograph of a bicycle messenger (below) - I have since looked to see how many other photos of DC messengers were digitized and available on the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Catalog - it seems there are just two more.

Title: Sam Maddox, 132 N St., S.E., Washington, D.C. Western Union No. 227, one of the young boys pretty close to the age limit. Was born Oct. 3, 1898, which makes him 13 yrs. old. Has permit to work from Juvenile Court. Has been troublesome in school. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.
Creator(s): Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer
Date Created/Published: [1912 April]
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-nclc-03766 (color digital file from b&w original print)
Library of Congress
Lewis Hine was a photographer (among other things) whose photographs were important in getting child labor laws passed - many of his collection items have been digitized by the Library of Congress, including photographs of bicycle messengers from different parts of the U.S. Of which there are three from Washington DC.

Title: Earle Griffith and Eddie Tahoory, working for the Dime Messenger Service. They said they never knew when they were going to get home at night. Usually work one or more nights a week, and have worked until after midnight. They said last Christmas their office had a 9 yr. old boy running errands for them, and that he made a great deal of money from tips. They make about $7 a week and more, sometimes. Said "The office is not allowed to send us into the red light district but we go when a call sends us. Not very often." Location: [Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia].
Creator(s): Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer
Date Created/Published: 1912 April.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-nclc-03757 (color digital file from b&w original print)
Library of Congress
Apparently one concern was that bicycle messengers were often assigned to make deliveries in "red light districts." (The "titles" for these items are taken from the annotations from the collection and are interesting.)

Title: Wilbur H. Woodward, 428 Third St., N.W., Washington, D.C., Western Union messenger 236, one of the youngsters on the border-line, (15 yrs. old) works until 8 P.M. only. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.
Creator(s): Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer
Date Created/Published: 1912 April.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-nclc-03761 (color digital file from b&w original print)
Library of Congress
If you follow the links to the LC presentations of these items, they have different versions that were digitized from the glass plate negatives that are (in effect) B&W rather than these digitized prints, which are "in color" in the sense that they reflect the way that the prints look now (i.e., sort of sepia toned). I prefer the digitized prints, but others might prefer the digitized negatives. Something for everyone ~

Friday, January 3, 2014

1914 - The Year World War I Started

Later in 1914 we will have the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, about which I expect we'll read and hear plenty. Bicycles were a relatively low-cost way to achieve a more mobile infantryman, but their use seems to have been limited. Still, one does see photographs.

France - Cyclists of Army, from the Library of Congress

[between ca. 1914 and ca. 1915]
1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.
Notes: Title from data provided by the Bain News Service on the negative.
Photograph shows French soldiers with bicycles during the beginning of World War I.
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).
Subjects-World War, 1914-1918.
Bain News Service Collection persistent URL for version at Library of Congress.

While cyclist-soldiers take up most of the visual space in the photograph above, there is one mounted cavalryman to the left. One wonders how the two groups, cyclists and traditional cavalry, regarded one another.

Cycle orderlies under fire, from the National Library of Scotland

From the National Library of Scotland description of this photograph: Cyclists sheltering from shelling, Western Front, during World War I. A shell bursting in the rubble of ruined buildings beside a road. Two cyclists have turned their bikes upside down and are using the wheels to give a little shelter from the blast. Curiously, a third man, appearing totally unconcerned, seems to be using a hammer and chisel on a rock in the road.

Bicycles were used quite commonly, not only for general transport, but also for carrying dispatches. Motorbikes, runners, pigeons and dogs were also used to carry messages because field telephones were limited by the need for cables and wireless was still unreliable.

I think the person who wrote this annotation is lacking imagination - rather than using a hammer and a chisel on a rock, I believe the fellow is bashing some bicycle part to try to bend it - that would make more sense. I also don't think they were seeking shelter behind their bicycles - not much shelter to be had! It seems more logical that they were simply working on their bikes, the photographer was going to record that scene, and by chance the photographer captured the shell going off in the background as well. Anyway, I like that theory better.

By chance I found this book written by a young American journalist, Roadside Glimpses of the Great War by Arthur Sweetser, published in 1916 before the United States was part of WWI - amazingly he did much of his travel in the war zones of France and Belgium by bicycle. On page 23 he starts what is probably one of the more unusual bicycle travelogues:
It was obvious that even if the Germans entered Lille at all, it would be only with a small holding force. The main army was driving through farther east. Douai, they told me, was the centre of activities, but how to cover the forty kilometres there was a poser. At last the idea of a bicycle struck me. It would be quaint indeed thus to chase the battle-front blindly all over France. After a whole day's hunting and tremendous linguistic effort, I secured the best the city could offer, the best bicycle, I soon believed, in all France, a machine which, costing me but $23 secondhand, was destined to take me half across the country.