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Smith tricycle, 1888

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Smith tricycle, 1888
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 38-609


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1887-1891

Smith Star bicycle

Smith tricycle
Catalog #: 211,501, Accession #: 38,279
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
This tricycle was donated to the Smithsonian in 1901. According to the donor, Robert Atwater Smith, this vehicle was called the American Lever tricycle, yet there is no evidence in any of the Smith catalogs to substantiate this statement. It was made by the H. B. Smith Machine Co., of Smithville, New Jersey, the well-known manufacturer of Star bicycles, who apparently offered tricycles during 1887 and 1888. The wheel size of this one seems to date it in the latter year.
Physical Description

Artifact. The tricycle's frame is of metal tubing. The three wheels have metal rims with radial wire spokes, and are of the type used by Smith. Diameter of the rear wheels is 40 inches and of the front wheel, 25 1/2 inches. The track of the rear wheels is 29 1/2 inches. Thin, solid rubber tires are mounted on the wheels. The rear wheels of the tricycle have separate axles, each independent of the other, and they are rotated by pedal levers that, when depressed, pull on straps wound around overrunning clutches on the axles. Springs return the drums of the clutches to rewind the straps when the pedal levers are allowed to rise. Each wheel is provided with its own axle, clutch, strap, and lever combination. The straps can be easily attached to either of two positions on the levers to provide two different mechanical advantages, or driving ratios. A wooden saddle (not original) mounted on springs is attached to the upper end of a rod that can be raised or lowered to suit the rider. A lever, actuating a friction brake that rubs against the tire on the front wheel, is pivoted on the right handlebar. A small metal mudguard is secured over the rear of the front wheel.

This tricycle was restored by Henry W. Mathis of the Southeast Cycle Shop in 1961. At that time, the original black finish was duplicated.

Date Made:
New Jersey
Gift of Robert Atwater Smith

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