1896 Columbia Woman’s Bicycle Embellished by Tiffany

Description
This bicycle is a lavishly decorated example of a common safety bicycle. It is covered with foliage, rosettes, and other organic Art Nouveau-inspired figures made of silver covered with a thin layer of gold. An expensive product for a limited market, it was introduced by Tiffany and Co. for the 1895 holiday season and was available at the height of the bicycle craze of the 1890s. Mary Noble “Mittie” Wiley of Montgomery, Alabama owned this bicycle. Her monogram MNW appears on the front tube in gold with diamonds and emeralds. Wiley was married to Ariosto Appling Wiley, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and later a Representative in the United States Congress. Despite the couple’s prominent standing in Montgomery and Washington over many years, the circumstances surrounding the acquisition and use of this bicycle are unknown. In 1915, Mittie gave it to her son, Noble, intending that he give it to his daughter, Hulit, when she was old enough to appreciate it. But Noble Wiley became fascinated by the bicycle’s unusual materials, techniques, and history, and he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1950.
date made
1896
maker
Pope Manufacturing Company
ID Number
TR.313486
catalog number
313486
accession number
188297
serial number
12877
Credit Line
Gift of Col. N. J. Wiley, U.S.A., Ret.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Transportation
Exhibition
Object Project
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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