ORIGINS: AMERICAN BICYCLES

There have been American invasions of this country by makers of agricultural machinery, boots, domestic machinery, typewriters, motor cars, and, of course, bicycles.

Of those articles enumerated all have come to stay except bicycles. Various opinions have been expressed as to the reason why American bicycles did not attract popular favour in this country. They were largely advertised, important firms rented expensive shops for retail purposes, and at one time it looked as though the American bicycle would catch on. The attempted invasion failed; a small army reached our shores but it got swallowed up and the officers retired with discomfiture.

The reason may be explained as follows. American makers produce one pattern of any article in large quantities and expect all purchasers at home and abroad to buy what they make. The American bicycles that reached this country were no exception to the general rule. They were made for American boulevards and asphalte roads of cities and were totally unsuited for touring and general riding conditions in this country. The mudguards and rims were of wood, the tyres were single tubes that could only be repaired with rubber plugs (a method not understood in England), the brakes were inadequate for our hilly roads, and the only redeeming feature of these machines was lightness. They arrived at a time when home manufacturers were at their wits end to supply the demand or practically none would have been sold, and those that were disposed of mostly caused trouble and loss of custom to the retailers.

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Items in this Collection

1876 Pope Brothers Rifle Air Pistol

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1880 Juvenile Propellor Tricycle

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1887 Overman Victor Light Roadster 54″ Ordinary

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1887 Overman Victor Light Roadster 56″ Ordinary

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1887 The Victor Safety (Cross frame Springfork)

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1889/1890 Overman Victor Spring-fork Safety

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1890 G&J American Ideal Rambler (for Girls)

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1890 Mascotte ‘Safety No 4’ Cross-frame (George Townsend & Co)

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1890 Union Cycle Mfg Co ‘Convertible’ Safety

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1890s RACING SCRAPBOOK (USA)

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1891 Columbia Light Roadster Safety

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1891 Overman Victor Spring-fork Safety

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1892 Century Columbia (Duplex frame)

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1892 Elliott Hickory ‘A’ Safety Bicycle

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1892 Kirkpatrick Saddle

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1892 OLD HICKORY ALMANAC

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1893 Columbia ‘Century’ Model 32 …with Ellipictal Gear

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1893 Columbia ‘Century’ Model 32 (For Restoration)

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1893 Columbia Century Roadster

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1893 Columbia Model 32 Road Racer with Elliptical Chainwheel

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1893 HICKORY WHEEL Co CATALOGUE

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1893 Overman Victor Flyer

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1893 Overman Victoria Single Tube Ladies’ Bicycle

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1893: OVERMAN VICTOR DISPLAY at the WORLD’S FAIR

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1894 Elliott Hickory Ladies Safety

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1894 Men’s Rambler Model 16

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1895 ‘Electric’ Lightweight Road Racer

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1895 Ariel Roadster (Goshen, Indiana, USA)

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1895 Gormully & Jeffery ‘The Rambler Tandem’

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1895 Gormully & Jeffery ‘Model D’ Ladies Rambler

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FOR SALE

1895 New Mail Safety (Wm Read & Sons, Boston, USA)

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1895 Overman Victor Safety

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1896 ‘THE AMERICA’ Truss Frame

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1896 ‘THE AMERICA’ Truss Frame Tandem

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1896 Columbia Model 40 Military

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1896 Eagle ‘Model B’ New York Police Bicycle

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1896 Fowler Truss Frame

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1896 Fowler Truss Frame – Catalogue

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1896 Stearns: The Yellow Fellow Yearbook

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1896-1898 American Premier Helical (Bridgeport, Conn, USA)

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1896-1898 Humber Standard-Grade Special Light Roadster (American Export Model)

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1897 Columbia Racing Tandem

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1897 Fowler Straight Frame Bicycle

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1897 Geneva Rear-Steering Tandem

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1898 Columbia Ladies Chainless (Shaft drive)

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1898 Columbia Model 50 Chainless

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1898 Crescent ‘No 3’ Boy’s Bicycle

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1898 Gormully & Jeffery ‘Rambler’ Rear-Steering Tandem

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1898 Monarch Defiance

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1898 Stearns ‘Yellow Fellow’ Rear-Steering Combination Tandem

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1898 Union Supply Co ‘Union Jack’

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1899 ‘Oxford’ (Goodby Rankin Co, Providence, RI)

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1899 Cleveland Model 47 Men’s Bicycle

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1899 Gormully & Jeffery Men’s Medium Weight Rambler Roadster

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1899 Gormully & Jeffery Rambler (Denmark)

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1899 Luthy & Co Fairy King

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1899 Stearns Special Model C for Ladies

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1900 Barnes ‘The White Flyer’ Cushion Frame

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1900 Mead ‘Kennebec’ Road Racer

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1900 Pierce Men’s Chainless

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