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Standard Columbia Bicycle, 1881Illustration from Pope Manufacturing Company catalogue

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Standard Columbia Bicycle, 1881Illustration from Pope Manufacturing Company catalogue


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, about 1875–1881

Boy's ordinary bicycle

Columbia Light Roadster ordinary bicycle

Early bicycle club group at Readville, Massachusetts

Standard Columbia ordinary bicycle
Catalog #: 330,156, Accession #: 288679
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
The Standard Columbia, built by the Pope Manufacturing Co., of Hartford Connecticut, and was available in models with front-wheel diameters ranging from 42 to 58 inches. This particular Standard Columbia Ordinary sold for $95. It was acquired by the Museum in 1970. Mr. Frank E. Waring (the donor's father) used this machine to participate in cycling activities in the Washington, D.C., area.
Physical Description

Artifact. This Standard Columbia, having a 54-inch front wheel with 44 radial spokes, and an 18-inch rear wheel with 18 radial spokes, weighs 49 pounds. The wheels have V-shaped steel rims, and now carry only remnants of the original red Pará rubber tires, which are of 1-inch diameter on the front wheel and 3/4-inch on the rear. The 1881 catalog states that this model was painted in two colors. The condition of this cycle is now such that its color is barely discernible, but it apparently was black, with no visible traces of the striping shown in the catalog illustration. The tapering backbone, or frame, of this cycle is made of 1 1/4-inch tubular steel, to which are brazed the forged-steel rear fork and the steering spindle. The step for mounting is located on the left lower side of the backbone. The saddle apparently is not original, for it is a suspension type that differs considerably from that shown in the catalog. On the left side of the backbone, under the seat, is a brass manufacturer's nameplate. At the upper end of the forged-steel front fork is the open steering head containing the long steering spindle, which can be adjusted by means of a bolt passing through the top of the head. Straight handlebars carry pear-shaped grips of Siamese buffalo horn, and a brake lever on the right side that operates the spoon brake on the front tire. The front-wheel bearings are adjustable double cones, fitting into hardened boxes in the hubs. They are adjusted for wear by an eccentric in the bottom of the fork. The adjustable pedal cranks allow the throw to vary from 5 to 6 inches. The pedals are equipped with cone bearings and dust caps.

Date Made:
Connecticut, Dist of Columbia
Gift of Paul E. Waring
The Pope Manufacturing Company was founded by Albert A. Pope in the 1870s and was the first company to manufacture bicycles on American soil. Pope, who had previously exported bicycles from England, began building bicycles under the trade name "Columbia" in the Weed Sewing Machine Company's factory in Hartford Connecticut in 1879. By 1890, the company was so succesful it had bought the factory from Weed because it needed all the space.
Related People, Places, and Events
Pope Manufacturing Company
The company began life in Boston, but built bicycles in Hartford Connecticut and by 1895 was solely located there.

Albert Augustus Pope (1843 - 1909)
Albert Pope was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a leading bicycle manufacturer, whose company produced about 60,000 per year in the 1890s. Pope was a proponent of the Good Roads Movement and was a principal sponsor of the League of American Wheelmen which was founded in 1880. Pope also experimented with automobile manufacturing in the 1890s, building 500 electric and 40 gasoline cars between 1897 and 1899.

Place of Use
Washington, D. C.

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