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Van Anden Dexter velocipede, 1869

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Van Anden Dexter velocipede, 1869
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 73-9979-CN


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1818-1869

Fowler tricycle model

Van Anden Dexter velocipede
Catalog #: 310,206, Accession #: 112,749
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

This velocipede was donated to the Smithsonian in 1930. It was built by William Van Anden, of Poughkeepsie, New York, who was granted Patent 88,238 on 23 March 1869, covering an "improvement in velocipedes." This improvement, well ahead of its time, consisted of a "ratchet device," or free-wheeling unit, in the hub of the front wheel that enables the rider's feet to remain motionless while the velocipede continues to move by momentum, as will a bicycle equipped with a coaster brake. Use of the device is optional, however, for the movement of a small plunger in the hub joins the pedal cranks fast to the axle, as in the conventional velocipede.

A notice in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 20 February 1869 describes the velocipede and mentions that it had been on exhibition the previous week at Burnham's velocipede school.

Physical Description

Artifact. The frame and fork are of iron, and are supported by wooden wheels with staggered spokes and the usual iron tires. Diameter of the front wheel is 36 inches and of the rear, 32 1/4 inches. Attached to the 4 1/2-inch cranks are spool-shaped cast-iron pedals of peculiar design. The velocipede weighs 55 pounds. The handlebars twist to actuate a linkage connected to a friction brake operating against the rear tire. A pierced cast-iron saddle is mounted on leather straps attached to curved iron supports in the center of the frame. Finished in red with cream striping. This velocipede was restored in 1973 by Dale C. Price, of Cambridge, Maryland, who duplicated the original finish.

Date Made:
New York
Gift of Mrs. William M. Van Anden

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