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Early American velocipede, 1869

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Early American velocipede, 1869
Smithsonian Institution , Negative #: 60-605-C


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1818-1869


Catalog #: 180,456
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
As with several of the other velocipedes in the Smithsonian's collection, no identifying marks can be found on this machine, but the donor apparently believed it was made in Dayton, Ohio. His personal knowledge of the machine may be correct, for the velocipede was one of the first vehicles in the Smithsonian's transportation collection. It was donated in 1889.
Physical Description

Artifact. This velocipede is nearly identical to the 1868 velocipede made in Boston that is also in the collection. This one is slightly larger; its 14-spoke wheels have diameters of 38 and 32 1/2 inches and 1/4-inch tires. The adjustable pedal cranks are also longer, giving a throw of from 6 to 9 inches. The absence of two features, foot rests and a brake mechanism, distinguish this velocipede from the 1868 model. Oddly, the handlebars turn and have an eye, as if for a brake, yet there is no evidence that this accessory was ever added, nor is there a passageway through which a brake cord could pass. The finish, now almost gone, was originally red, with a 7/16-inch black stripe split with a fine gold line, reminiscent of the decoration applied to commercial horse-drawn vehicles.

Date Made:
about 1869
Massachusetts, Ohio
Gift of S. R. Sturdevant

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