This metal stickpin is topped with a red celluloid button that reads “A Modern Bicycle/Dayton/A Model Bicycle” in white. The Davis Sewing Machine Company produced this souvenir pin to advertise their Dayton Bicycle around 1896. The Davis Sewing Machine Company began production of their sewing machines in 1868 in Watertown, New York. The successful company moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1889 due to overtures by the Dayton Board of Trade offering to build new factories and housing for the company and its employees. Upon arrival in Dayton, Davis added bicycles to their production of sewing machines, which sold better than the sewing machines during the bicycle boom of the 1890s. Unlike many bicycle makers of the era, Davis continued to sell bicycles into the 20th century, and in 1924 the Huffman Manufacturing Company purchased the concerns of Davis. In 1934 Huffman began producing the Huffy bicycle, which it continued to produce into the 21st century.
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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