Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bicycles as Christmas Presents - Ads

My local bike shop (that isn't a national chain) says on their web site that "bikes are the perfect gift for kids" - but then the photograph they have of happy kids with their new bikes shows them in summer. On the other hand, the best bike I ever received as a gift from my parents was a Christmas present . . . I guess there is nothing to be done about the disconnect between bicycles as presents for kids and December weather (at least where it isn't typically that warm in December).

In the 1890s bicycle sales focused heavily on adults - until the collapse of the bicycle market around 1897-98. After that apparently interest in sales to children (or anyone!) for Christmas grew, demonstrated in the Washington DC newspaper ad below from 1903.

1904 Christmans Bike Ad
From The Washington times., December 13, 1903

The ad copy isn't particularly good - "any boy would be hilariously happy if Santa Claus brought him a new bicycle for Christmas" - perhaps the phrase "hilariously happy" made more sense 110 years ago. It's also unclear why the effectively exclude girls - presumably there were girls bikes for sale.

1922 Christmas Bike Ad (Detail)
The herald. (New Orleans, LA), December 14, 1922

Above is part of an ad from a newspaper in New Orleans in 1922 - more what one would expect. Of course today it would be rare when a parent would think that a bicycle as present would "fulfill the biggest wish" of the child receiving it.

1922 Christmas Bike Ad
The full ad - most of the toys are more oriented toward physical activity than those of today

Ksenia learns to ride a bike
My daughter, some years ago, and her Christmas present bike

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