PARENTS – HERE’S HEALTH AND PLEASURE FOR YOUR BOYS AND GIRLS
The ‘Irish Mail’ Car is the only form of outdoor exercise for children that keeps them in robust health.
It is worth more than any medicine or ‘tonic’ on earth, because it is a perfectly natural method of forcing pure, fresh air into the lungs.
It assists digestion, soothes the nerves, reddens the blood, and develops strength and regularity of the heart action.
Arms, hands, wrists, shoulders, legs, ankles, back and chest are evenly developed by the steady forward and backward ‘wiring’ movement necessary to propel the IRISH MAIL.
No strain upon any part – no over-exercise of the legs at the expense of the chest, arms or back, as with the tricycle.
Speediest of all the children’s cars, because GEARED, yet can’t upset, as it is built so close to the ground.
Made of steel and selected hickory – simple, durable (not a ‘toy’ car) – no complex parts to break or get out of repair – will last for years with reasonable use.
Rubber tired, smooth, quiet, safe, easy-running – the IRISH MAIL runs without the nerve-racking clutter of the velocipede or wagon.
So get an IRISH MAIL today and start them on the road to perfect health. Their bright eyes, rosy cheeks and well-developed little bodies will be your best reward.
– Hill-Standard Mfg Co Irish Mail advert, 1906
The children’s ‘Irish Mail’ pedal car was developed from an early style of locomotion that predates the bicycle. The railways, introduced in the mid-nineteenth century, revolutionised society by providing cheap travel. Not only could local people now visit other areas safely and fast, but industry also had the means the transport goods cheaply and promptly. Rural areas benefited particularly.
As well as a regular train service provided by engines, small individual railway vehicles were built, for carrying one or two operators, primarily for track inspection or to convey engineers to repair track where required. The first models were geared, with a large lever used for propulsion. These machines were also used to transport mail in rural areas. After the introduction of the velocipede in 1869, railway vehicles were also built as pedal bicycles with three or four track wheels (you can see my 1898 Teetor Railway Velocipede further down the page).
It is believed that, with the influx of Irish immigrants to the USA, the name ‘Irish Mail’ was attached to the junior version of geared pull-cart that became popular around the world at the end of the nineteenth century. It was promoted not just as a toy, but as a means of healthy exercise for children. Using one certainly does strengthen the upper body rather than just the legs as with a bicycle or tricycle, and such machines are still made today for adults for just that purpose (see the link at the bottom of the page).
The ‘Irish Mail’ captured the popular imagination in America, and this style of toy became a ‘must-have’ for children from 1900 onwards. Like soap box derby cars and go-karts later in the century, kids not only used them while they were young, but built their own versions when they became teenagers and raced against each other.
1921 Irish Mail ‘Junior’ Hand Car
‘Holiday Goods’ was one of many retail outlets selling the ‘Irish Mail’ Hand Car. They offered four versions, the ‘Junior’ at 27″ long, two larger versions, at 31″ and 40″ long, and a Tandem racer which was 45″ long. The ‘Junior’ had larger front wheels than the others to aid stability.
This 90-year-old example has survived intact except for two common repairs, a replacement ‘seat’ and handlebar (both in original style).
1921 ‘HOLIDAY GOODS’ ADVERTISEMENT
IRISH MAIL ADVERTS: 1906-1915
RAILWAY VELOCIPEDE CARS
The Irish Mail developed from railway velocipede cars. The example below is actually from Ireland and was used as a track inspection vehicle.
1959 GARTON SPEEDSTER ‘IRISH MAIL’
After WW2, the ‘Irish Mail’ evolved to reflect the interest among teenagers in hot rod cars. With the sleek lines of its metal bodywork, and ‘big and little’ wheels giving it a rake, Garton’s Speedster was the most popular version. Whereas children who grew up prewar learned to ride on Irish Mails, the dream car for the younger ‘baby boom’ generation was The Speedster.’
To see a modern adult version of the Irish Mail: PLEASE CLICK HERE