In 1872, Claude Monet painted a portrait of his son Jean on his horse tricycle. The example owned by the Monet family has wooden wheels, similar to the 1869-1870 velocipedes. The next development of this popular French toy of the 1880s was the fitting of metal rims without tyres.
1880s/1890s French Juvenile Horse Tricycle
Handle with chain to rear Axle
This style of French horse tricycle is interesting because it is operated by handles connected by chain to the rear axle. The design reflects the earliest chain driven tricycles, which predate the safety bicycle of the 1880s. The first incarnation had wooden wheels; this intermediate style uses very basic metal rims and spokes; and later examples had thin rubber tyres over grooved rims. Post-1900 examples were more sophisticated. Modern replicas were made, but are easy to tell apart in the usual way, such as welded parts, more modern fittings, phillips screws. It may be hard to tell the difference between an early example in top condition and a modern replica, but it would be impossible to age a replica to the degree of this example, which is obviously original.
THE HORSE’S HEAD
THE FRONT WHEEL