Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bicycles Sales in the U.S. South (1896)

A letter to the editor in the December 24 1896 issue of Cycling Life.

The open racism reflected in this "communication" is appalling.

The special want in bicycles for southern states is the subject of the communication given below:

To The Editor— That there is still room at the top in bicycles is particularly true for us in the south, where the color line pevades [sic] everything. If some maker would only make a machine listing at $150 and held at that price so as to keep it strictly at that figure, we, for one firm in the south, would make it our ne plus ultra wheel. Just as the theaters are now empty so far as white people are concerned at all ordinary shows, and crowded even at $2 a seat on special occasions when there will be no people of color in the house, there is every chance that the best classes will soon stop riding bicycles because the negroes are taking to them in great numbers. We claim that the success of the machine which has been sold here considerably higher than a hundred dollars is due to the necessity of providing a mount which the negroes cannot reach financially, and to nothing else.
What we want, however, is a machine of superb finish, distinctive appearance and inflexible price.

Jos. Labadie, Jr., Sec'y,
The Galveston Cycle Co., Inc.
Galveston, Tex., Dec. 16.

$150 for a bicycle was a very high price in those days - the price range I have seen was from somewhere under 50 dollars for lower end models to 100 dollars for top models.

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