The Western Wheel Works of Chicago, Illinois produced this souvenir pin for its Crescent brand bicycle around 1896. First producing wheels for carriages, prams, and wheelchairs, Western Wheel Works turned its production towards bicycle manufacturing around 1890. In 1891 it introduced its Crescent model cycle, which was produced in a variety of models for men, women, boys, girls, and tandem riders until around 1897. A white celluloid button tops the stickpin that reads “Crescent Bicycles.” To the right is Crescent’s logo of, a waxing red crescent moon.
Bicycling boomed in popularity in the United States during the 1890s when the invention of the “safety” bicycle replaced the dangerous high-wheeler. The National Cycle Board of Trade held the largest annual exhibitions in New York and Chicago between 1893 and 1897. At these cycle shows manufacturers attempted to capitalize on the bicycle boom with exhibitions of their products to both the public and bicycle agents from other cities. At shows like these, manufacturers advertised their wares with pins and buttons made of tin and celluloid—cheap materials easily mass manufactured into trinkets and souvenirs. The Chicago Tribune’s account of the 1896 Chicago show speaks to the ubiquity of these kind of souvenirs. “Every visitor seems to have a desire to cherish its memory through some kind of a souvenir . . . anyone who does not look like a walking sign board is a rarity and every exhibiter goes after him and every available buttonhole has some kind of button in it, and stick pins are thrust at him from all sides.”
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