Velocipede, 1868

This French-patterned velocipede was donated to the museum in 1907. The donor of this machine stated that it was made by either Sargent or French, carriage builders of Boston, Massachusetts, about
1868, and that it sold for $160. It seems likely it is from the period: an illustration of an almost identical machine is captioned "American velocipede of 1869" on page 22 of Charles Pratt's The American Bicycler (1880). Another similar machine, illustrated on page 28 of Harry Griffin's Cycles and Cycling (1890), is described as an "Improved Boneshaker of
1870," made by Charles Pomeroy Button, of 142 Cheapside, London.
The velocipede is made from a heavy forged bar with a fork at its lower end to hold the rear wheel. A vertical iron fork, topped by a horizontal
handlebar holds the front wheel. The wood-spoke wheels have 13/16 inch- wide iron tires. A forward projection of the frame carries a pair of footrests for use while coasting. Weighted bronze pedals hang from the cranks that are secured to the live front axle. Twisting the handlebars in the mounting brackets winds up a cord, which presses a brake shoe against the tire of the rear wheel. A padded, pigskin-covered metal saddle is mounted on a flat steel spring, on which it can be adjusted forward or backward to suit the length of the rider's legs.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1868
Associated Place
United States: Massachusetts
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of William Sturgis Bigelow
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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