Earl Kiser’s Bicycle Racing Medal, 1893

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Earl Kiser’s brief career as a bicycle and automobile racer spanned the height of the safety bicycle craze in the 1890s and the proliferation of automobiles and race cars in the first years of the twentieth century. Newspapers and magazines took note of Kiser’s budding career as a bicycle racer and popularized nicknames that celebrated his swift rise to fame: the Little Dayton Demon, referring to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio; the Little Wonder; and the Pocket Hercules for his short, muscular physique. On September 15, 1893, the Darke County Agricultural Society awarded this gold medal to Kiser for first place in a bicycle race in Greenville, Ohio, 35 miles from Dayton. He was 17 years old. In the late 1890s, he competed in bicycle races in many cities, sometimes sprinting to victory in exciting, come-from-behind finishes. Kiser joined the Yellow Fellow Team, sponsored by the maker of Stearns Yellow Fellow bicycles, and impressed race track audiences in Europe. He drove race cars in the early 1900s and defeated well known drivers such as Barney Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet. Tragically, Kiser had a leg amputated in 1905 after he lost control of a Winton race car and crashed into a fence, crushing his leg between the car seat and a fence post. He sold automobiles for a living in the 1910s and 1920s. Kiser’s widow, Francine Holland, donated this medal to the National Museum of American History in 1991.
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 5/8 in x 2 3/8 in; 4.1148 cm x 6.0198 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Object Project
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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