Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Video Player to Embed from Library of Congress

Title Stanford University, California

Created/Published United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1897. Format Film, Video Dates 1897 Location California, Palo Alto Language English Subjects Bicycles, California, College Buildings, College Students, Cyclists, Palo Alto, Palo Alto (Calif.), Stanford University, Stanford, Leland, Universities and Colleges From the Library of Congress,

From F.Z. Maguire catalogue: Taken at the above University, noted the world over, being the personal gift of the late Senator Leland Stanford. The view shows an immense arch in the background through which are seen coming groups of students, some walking, others on bicycles. The figures show life size, clear and distinct. The ivy covered walls of the building form the background to a pleasing picture.

The video doesn't have much cycling action, but the whole thing (not including the LoC "bumpers" (ie, branding) doesn't last a full minute. There are two cyclists seen at the beginning, casually riding with those on foot, and one just barely visible at the end.

This player has "embed" code available directly from the LoC site, which is nice. I guess. But it isn't a player that works with an iPad, so I am actually not so crazy with it, particularly since the same video is available on the LoC YouTube channel and can be more easily embedded from there and plays on an iPad.

Same video but from YouTube

Friday, August 30, 2013

Single Ad for Cycle Shop & "Metadata"

In searching the many websites that provide digitized materials from the 1890s (of particular interest to me) I can say that the amount of "metadata" provided by different organizations for digitized "content" (stuff from their collections) can vary widely. In particular as to whether there is anything relevant to cycling history.

Kiev Bicycle Ad 1890
From Путеводитель по Киеву и его окрестностям с адресным отделом, планом и фототипическими видами Киева (Guide to Kiev and its environs . . . 1890)

Thanks to extensive annotations, the World Digital Library generally has more searchable target terms available than many sites. Here is the "description" of the digitized Guide to Kiev and Its Environs, Including an Address Section, Map and Phototype Views of Kiev (1890)
This 1890 guidebook provides comprehensive information for visitors to Kiev. It includes a history of the city and details of places of interest, such as Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the cathedrals and other churches, historical monuments, public gardens and wooded areas, public and administrative buildings, and bridges over the Dnieper River. Included is useful information for travelers, such as timetables for trains, steamships, and other passenger transport and a directory for hotels, restaurants, doctors, banks, stores, baths, libraries, clubs, and city and church authorities. The guide anticipates by 24 years Baedeker’s guide to Russia and is much more detailed. Also included are maps showing key attractions and local streets. The guide was published at the time when Kiev was becoming a significant industrial center, which is reflected in the directory and advertising section. Pages of advertisements are devoted to various agricultural machines, equipment for steam and water mills, pipes, steel for building railroads and bridges, steam engines and boilers, and other industrial products. More personal items on offer include fabrics, bicycles, hats, wine, fruit trees, furniture, and teas.
I was hoping to find several such ads, but it turned out there was just the one ad for a bicycle shop, B. Kaul'fus (as rendered in Cyrillic, here transliterated). Although Ukraine became the center of bicycle production in the Soviet Union, the bicycles for sale at this time in Kiev are said to be imports from Germany and England. This was very early in the days of "safety bicycles," that is bicycles with two equal sized wheels and use of a chain to transmit power from pedals to rear wheel rather than a "penny farthing" high wheel bicycle. It is somewhat remarkable that for a single ad bicycles are mentioned in the annotation.

Of course there are costs to everything - with its lengthy detailed annotations in seven languages, there are only somewhere just over 8,000 items in the World Digital Library. Few have anything to do with cycling history. But what there is can it seems be found.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

75,000 Pageviews

This is for 433 published blog posts starting in May 2007.

When I started this blog, my main interest was in acquiring some firsthand experience using Blogger and Flickr to present interesting (hopefully) historical information I would find related to cycling in the 1890s in online digitized collections at the Library of Congress and similar institutions, sometimes making comparisons to present day cycling. As it has worked out, I have sometimes blogged about present day cycling with no reference to historical aspects of cycling and have also blogged about periods other than the 1890s. But other than this (and one other) 'meta' blog post that is about blogging (but blogging that is about cycling) my posts are all about cycling, at least.

75,000 alltime pageviews
As of this morning, this blog has had 75,000 pageviews (says Blogger)

I don't really understand my traffic over time. My pageview numbers were increasing fairly steadily until early 2011, and then the growth stopped and in fact the numbers fell off quite a bit. On some level of course it doesn't matter - I don't have any advertising. But I was still pleased that more people were looking at the stuff I had assembled. (The numbers were not and have never been influenced for this blog by "referer spam" overall - from time to time one of those sites will appear briefly in my stats, then disappear after a few days. The falloff can't be attributed to that.)

This blog is a little different than most because on a typical day I get most of the traffic from Google searches - that was true at the pageview high point and is true now. People are mostly not visiting because the are regular visitors of this blog but because they did a Google search on "Conan Doyle bicycle" and came to the blog post I did on his statement about the benefits of cycling. (My main contribution is that I extracted from the Scientific American article everything he said and not just the line usually quoted plus I show you the page as published.)

For a while I would try to be clever and come up with blog posts that I thought would be appealing for some other "bike bloggers" who are vastly more popular to link to - as a result, the Washcycle blog appears in my "all time" stats - but the decrease in the traffic can't be (much) attributed to my not doing that any more, either.

I find it hard to believe that the amount of searching for bicycle related topics that brought traffic to this blog has fallen off - my observation would be that the appearance of certain search terms in my "stats" has been remarkably consistent - so I have to wonder if my not taking up the many (insistent, pesky) offers from Blogger to use Google Plus to support my blog has a negative effect in that those bloggers who do use it get a higher page rank in Google search. I suppose I could have been aggressive about trying to connect with people through Google Plus but it seemed pointless for a blog that relies on search.

In the end, I can't know what the reasons are for this. I still blog at least once a week and I still find things to blog about that seem to attract enough pageviews over time to motivate me to keep at it. I still learn about cycling history and about the resources available on the Internet. And I continue to be pleased to see a fair amount of traffic from many other countries.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Bicycle Poster from 1896 / D.C. Bike Theft (Also 1896)

Stormer Bicycle Poster
Stormer bicycle poster from the Library of Congress

"As good as money can buy" - from the Acme Manufacturing Co. of Reading, PA. Stormer is referred to as the "model" name rather than the brand of the bicycle.

Title The Stormer Bicycle Recommends Itself
Date Created/Published Cincinnati & New York : Strobirde & Co. Lith., 1896.
Medium 1 print (poster) : color ; 213 x 102 cm.
Summary Young woman in plaid dress rides a Stormer bicycle.
Reproduction Number LC-USZC2-131 (color film copy slide) LC-USZ62-24633 (b&w film copy neg.)
Call Number POS - ADV. 19th c. - Bicycles. S778, no. 8 (in 3 parts) (D size) [P&P]
Library of Congress

As usual with digitized posters, this was digitized not from the original but from a color transparency (slide) made of the original some years ago. The quality of the digital image, if you look closely, is not great if you wanted to print a version, but otherwise fine.

I don't know why the Library hasn't made the images readily downloadable offsite - the item is clearly labeled as published in 1896. I created this JPEG directly from the TIFF and didn't use the relatively low resolution JPEG provided on site at LC.

I don't find much mention of the Stormer Bicycle in digitized newspapers of the time, although the Washington Times includes one in a weekly list of stolen bicycles from Washington DC (!).
Washington Evening Star, September 19, 1896, Page 18

BICYCLES STOLEN - Theft of Nine Wheels Reported During the Week.

During the week ending yesterday the theft of nine bicycles was reported at the police headquarters. At this rate it would seem as though on an average 500 wheels are made away with by unscrupulous persons a year, and, in spite of the rewards and the efforts of the police, a large percentage are never found. Thieves have found bicycle stealing to be a profitable and easy business, owing to the owners leaving them unguarded and unlocked. It is almost a matter of impossibility for policemen to trace stolen wheels unless the latter posses some marked peculiarities. The victims during the week are:

George D. Harning, Central building, 9th street and Pennsylvania avenue, Fowler bicycle. No. 22951.

Ernest H. Elliot, 145 Q street northwest, Victor bicycle, No. 88679.

Wade Luckett, 66 H street northwest. Telegram bicycle. No. 8753.

Willis A. Madden of Howard University, Stormer bicycle, N. 26278.

Horace H. Brower, 9A 9th street. a Horseman bicycle. No. 3336.

Harry W. Higham, Jr., 476 Pennsylvania Avenue northwest, Wilhelm bicycle. No. 242.

Fred Busch, Florida avenue northwest. Crescent bicycle, No. 188727.

A. G. Randall, 800 A street southeast. Wilhelm bicycle, No. 26771.

Allan Baeschlin, 1826 Half street northwest, Elmore bicycle.

Although it is stated that the bicycles are not easily identified, numbers are given for all but one - are these serial numbers or license numbers? Not sure. I suppose mostly like serial numbers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guides du cycliste en France: de Paris à Toulouse et aux Pyrénees (1895)

The Internet Archive text archive (mostly books) has a great deal of interesting material, mostly published during the early 20th and late 19th century, but the assignment of subject keywords is not entirely regularized - one often finds surprising gems by trying different things. "Bicycle touring" for example returns only 18 hits - some of the items are advice about how to (do bicycle touring) while others are about particular bicycle tour experiences, although clearly most books in the later category have not been assigned this subject keyword pair (since there would be far more hits).

Among those 18 items I found this French guide from 1895 - Guides du cycliste en France: de Paris à Toulouse et aux Pyrénees published in 1895. My French is fairly poor but I can get a sense of what is being discussed (usually).

The well-preserved cover of Guides du cycliste en France ... from Boston Public Library

Advice on Hygiène

Le voyageur


Les règles d'hygiène que doit s'imposer le touriste cycliste sont fort simples et des moins gênantes; Porter de là flanelle, et en avoir une de rechange pour l'étape. Prendre le plus souvent possible une douche froide très courte ou un bain chaud.

S'abstenir d'alcool : absinthe, liqueurs, chartreuse, apéritifs, etc. Proscrire l'alcool même dans le café.

Ne jamais partir à, jeun. Ne pas fumer en route.

Par les grandes chaleurs de l'étc, porter des conserves en verre fumé pour préserver les yeux de l'éclat éblouissant de la route.

Se faire un couvre-nuque avec un mouchoir pour se préserver des insolations.

Ne jamais forcer l'allure ni chercher à monter des côtes que l'on sent au-dessus de ses forces.

Google Translate renders this thus:

Hygiene rules should impose cycling tourists are very simple and less intrusive; Wear flannel there, and have a spare for the stage. Take as much as possible a very short cold shower or a hot bath.

Abstain from alcohol: absinthe, liqueurs, chartreuse, cocktails, etc.. Outlawing alcohol even in coffee.

Never leave an empty stomach. Do not smoke while driving.

By the great heat of étc, wear canned smoked glass to protect the eyes from the blinding light of the road.

Getting a neck guard with a handkerchief to protect against sunburn.

Never force the pace or trying to climb hills that we feel over its forces.

While there is a certain fractured nature to Google's rendering, generally it is clear enough. The exact advice might be updated in various ways but the issues remain, not surprisingly, the same.

Map of the region of France relevant to this guide

Monday, August 5, 2013

Keating Cycles Poster, 1890s

There is no particular reason to blog about this but why not.

Keating Cycles poster, 1890s
From the Library of Congress

Title Keating cycles. 365 days ahead of them all / Keating Wheel Co., Holyoke, Mass.
Date Created/Published Phila. : Ketterlinus, [189-?]
Medium 1 print (poster) : color.
Summary Man on bicycle, and winged woman with wreath alongside him.
Reproduction Number LC-USZC4-3028 (color film copy transparency)
Library of Congress -

As is often the case (if not always) with digitized posters at LC, this is not digitized directly from the poster but rather is digitized from a color transparency (slide) that was produced at some point. So the quality is not as good as it would be if digitized directly from the original with the right device. I have cropped down to the poster, leaving out the color bar that is in the image as provided by LC. Also, the online presentation at LC only provides the thumbnail offsite but since the item is clearly in the public domain I have created a derivative image from the TIFF that is better than a thumbnail (and also better than the two JPEGs available if you were at LC) available if you click on the image above.

I am not that knowledgable about art, but I think this poster is mostly noteworthy for the somewhat risque approach used to sell bicycles with the "winged goddess" in a state of semi-undress. There seems to be something not quite right with the perspective so that it appears her nose is buried in the fellow's armpit. Also, the bike is rendered somewhat oddly, for example the headtube appears to be exceptionally long while the chainring is too small - presumably in error.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Video Looking at Cycling in Amsterdam vs NYTimes Depiction

I don't think of Amsterdam's cycling environment as a model for what American cities might aspire to as far as integrating cycling is concerned because after all, let's be realistic - there are just too many differences. Nevertheless it can be interesting to think about the extent of cycling infrastructure there and the use of bicycles for routine trips that Americans typically use cars for and what can be learned, if only piecemeal.

Bicycles in Amsterdam
Bicycles in Amsterdam, from Flickr user Scott Rettberg

Lately the NYTimes has had much more extensive coverage of cycling related issues than usual - this is (one assumes) partially a result of the new bikeshare system that New York City has started (that turns out to be hugely successful, but that's a separate conversation). As is often the case, NYTimes coverage is a little peculiar, looking for some "angle." (During the recent Tour de France one of the longest articles about the race in the NYTimes was about the switch to English from French as "the language" of the Tour. Not about the race per se, and not about doping.)

Notwithstanding the apparent growing popularity of cycling represented by the use of the new NYC bikeshare system and other indicators, the NYTimes in effect argued for caution with an article that suggests that "a sea of bikes swamps their capital." Uh oh!! The Video producer "Streetfilms" has done a video response. (I found reference to this on the Seattle Bike Blog.

Are there really too many bikes in Amsterdam? from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

One of the comments for the video points out that the depictions in this video of central Amsterdam make cycling there look particularly chaotic and gives links to other video, on YouTube, of different locales in the Netherlands where there is plenty of cycling but it doesn't look quite so intimidating (to American eyes, at least).

The video has a number of different soundbite length interviews with different folks - one of them is Pete Jordan, the author of "In the City of Bikes" that I read (and reviewed) recently.