Glass Paperweight, Albert Pope

In the late nineteenth century, the Pope Manufacturing Company was a leader in the bicycle market with its Columbia brand of high-wheelers and safeties. Albert A. Pope, who founded the company in 1877, had succeeded by embracing technological change. His factories in Hartford, Connecticut excelled at producing lightweight tubular steel frames, pneumatic tires, and other bicycle parts in vast quantities. Pope also was adept at influencing the social and political landscape; he was instrumental in promoting bicycle touring, starting the good roads movement, and defining the concept of personal mobility. But by 1900, the bicycle riding fad had reached market saturation, and sales fell. Pope astutely used his production capacity and methods to manufacture automobiles, the next personal mobility frontier for his upper middle class, urban clientele. He applied bicycle technologies and parts designs to automobile chassis and wheels, providing a smooth transition. Pope introduced the Columbia electric car in 1897 and built 500 examples in the late 1890s – the largest volume of any auto maker at that time. Pope manufactured several makes of gasoline cars over the years, but he never achieved the same market dominance that he had enjoyed with bicycles or that Henry Ford would achieve with the Model T.
Currently not on view
Object Name
associated dates
Pope, Albert A.
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in x 7/8 in; 6.35 cm x 6.35 cm x 2.2225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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