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April 6, 2017

25 Vintage Bicycle Ads From the Victorian Era

"Who knows but that before the next century dawns it will be recognized that the inventor of the bicycle has done more to revolutionize the religious, moral and social ideas of mankind than all the philosophers of our time?"
—"Bicycling Notes of the Month." Outing May, 1886, p. 240

Vehicles for human transport that have two wheels and require balancing by the rider date back to the early 19th century. The first means of transport making use of two wheels arranged consecutively, and thus the archetype of the bicycle, was the German draisine dating back to 1817. The term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s.

With four key aspects (steering, safety, comfort and speed) improved over the penny-farthing, bicycles became very popular among elites and the middle classes in Europe and North America in the middle and late 1890s. It was the first bicycle that was suitable for women, and as such the "freedom machine" (as American feminist Susan B. Anthony called it)


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