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Overman Victoria bicycle, 1889

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Overman Victoria bicycle, 1889
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2003-19246


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1887-1891

A  Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900
A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 — City Streetscapes

New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two Step, By E. T. Paull

Woman's Overman Victoria safety bicycle, 1889
Catalog #: 214971, Accession #: 40667
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Made by the Overman Wheel Company of Boston, Massachusetts, this safety bicycle was their Victoria model for woman.
Physical Description

Artifact. Drop frame woman's safety bicycle. Size: 6'L x 1'11"W x 3'11"H. Color: Black. Front wheel: 28 inches diameter, 24 spokes. Rear wheel: 28 inches, 32 spokes. The frame is metal tubing, the wheels are of metal and tangential wire spokes, the thin tires are of solid rubber, and the curved handlebars are of metal with spade handles on each end. The saddle, made of leather stretched across several sets of coil springs, is adjustable vertically and fore and aft. A curved brace at the bottom of the frame serves to strengthen it. The rear-wheel sprocket, which is on the right side of the wheel, is driven by a block chain from the front sprocket, the latter being equipped with pedals having a nonadjustable throw of 5 3/4 inches. Adjustment of the chain tension is obtained by moving the rear axle backwards or forwards in slots at the rear end of the rear fork. There is no coaster attachment; the pedals are always turning while the bicycle is in motion. The front fork is designed to reduce shock. A small mudguard is secured at the rear of the front wheel. A large mudguard is mounted over the rear wheel. There is a chain guard that surrounds the chain almost completely, and twine laced in the mudguard to protect the rider's clothing from becoming entangled in the wheel spokes or the chain, brakes on the handlebar controls, a rear wheel spoon brake by a system of wires and pivoted arms.

Date Made:
maker's location
Gift of May H. Mead
The drop frame bicycle was developed so that a woman could ride while wearing a long skirt. Its adoption greatly increased the popularity of the bicycle and helped make cycling a popular sport for women, as well as, a means of transportation.
Related People, Places, and Events
Overman Wheel Company

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