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Unzicker tricycle model, 1878

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Unzicker tricycle model, 1878
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 784-B


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, about 1875-1881

Child's tricycle

Unzicker Tricycle model
Catalog #: 309,256, Accession #: 89,797
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
This Uniziker Tricycle model was transferred to the Smithsonian from the U. S. Patent Office in 1926. On 4 June 1878 Otto Unzicker, of Chicago, Illinois, was issued patent 204,636 for an "improvement in velocipedes." It is interesting to note the similarity in design of the main components of this tricycle and those of the 1876 child's tricycle velocipede in the collection. Some connection between the two may well have existed, as Unzicker's patent was assigned in its entirety to the same Adolph Shoeninger associated with Marble. This particular tricycle had a side-saddle and was designed for a woman's use.
Physical Description

Artifact. This model shows a tricycle propelled by the back-and-forth motion of the wooden handlebars, which are also used to steer the tricycle. They are fastened to the upright arm of a bell-crank attached to the top of the fork, and the motion of the bell-crank is transmitted by connecting rods to cranks on the ends of the front-wheel axle. The model, measuring 11 inches long, 7 1/2 inches high, and 3 1/2 inches wide, is constructed of wood and brass, except for the steel rear axle and the leather strap for the single stirrup. The sloping frame and the fork are of wood, with fittings connecting the two. The wheels are of wood, the 5-inch diameter front one containing 12 spokes, and the 4-1/4-inch diameter rear ones each containing 10 spokes. The spokes are staggered in the wooden hubs. The sidesaddle places the rider on the left side of the vehicle. Because of the mechanical disadvantage accompanying this method of propulsion, and the relatively narrow track of the rear wheels, it is thought that a full-sized vehicle, if one was ever built, would not have proven very satisfactory on the poor roads of the nineteenth century.

Date Made:
Transferred from the U. S. Patent Office

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