Dandy horse

It is not unusual in the history of civilization to discover one thing twice, either because after its first invention it fell into oblivion, or because the initiates deliberately kept in secret the first discovery. This happened to the bike as well which, although it was in continuous use from the 12th century onwards by the Order of the Sun and the Moon – moreover, recent data suggests that even by the Templarian Knights before them, who took it over from Egypt where it could not become popular because of the sand – and even turned to the surface on the paintings of great Renaissance painters and in the theoretical treatises of Leonardo, but then again the veil of secrecy fell on it until the present day, when the devote research of Boris Indrikov revealed its glorious past. In order the Tour de France could be organized from 1903, the Giro d’Italia from 1909, and the Vuelta d’España from 1935, the bicycle had to be invented again before. The burden of this task was undertaken by Baron Karl Christian Ludwig Drais von Sauerbronn in 1817.

Von Drais hobby-horse of 1817

Hobby horse, 1818. Coventry Transport Museum

Hobby horse in the London Science Museum

Hobby horse with steerable front wheel

Hobby horse, replica, 1819

Ravensburg Rutenfest 2005 Festzug Draisine

There once was a Baron von Drais [pronounced “Drice”]
Who observed some swift skaters on ice;
“If they balance on steels
Then why not two wheels –
Yes, a Laufmaschine, that would be nice!”

Roger Street, 1823

The German Laufmaschine for the two-wheeled construction did not refer to its speed but to the way of its propulsion. In French it was called draisienne after the name of its inventor, while in English – in the version improved by Denis Johnson in 1818 – hobby-horse or dandy-horse.

Johnson’s specification, 1818, printed in 1857 by George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode

The prefix of the English name is justified by the large number of cartoons on which the contemporary illustrators depicted the users of the vehicle and its ways of use.

Published by John Hudson, 1819

“Modern Pegasus or Dandy Hobbies in full speed”

The pedestrian hobbies or the difference of going up and down hill. William Heath, 1819

Hobby horse race, Paris, Jardin de Luxembourg, 1818

“A P***e, driving his hobby in Herdford!” Print by J. Lewis Marks, 1819

A family party takeing an airing

A Land Cruise on one of the Patent Hobby Horses exhibiting at the West end of the Town, 1819

Saving travelling expences, 1819

Royal Hobby’s, or the Hertfordshire Cock-horse!

Dutiful children on a visit to their father. A scene on the Windsor Road

Royal Hobby’s. Dandies on their hobbies! Print made by Isaac Robert Cruikshank, 1819

Dandies on their hobbies! Print made by Isaac Robert Cruikshank

The Epping Hunt or Hobbies in an Uproar, 1819

Anti-dandy infantry triumphant or the velocipede cavalry unhobby’d. Charles Williams, 1819

Accidents in high life or, Royal hobby’s broke down! Dedicated to the Society
for the Suppression of Vice

Every man on his perch or going to hobby fair

Besides the not very flattering cartoons, the news on the new inventions were also distributed on more serious flyers and printed books.

Pedestrian Hobby Horse. A well known aquatint engraving, ca. 1817

Pedestrian Hobby Horse. Published by Ackermann, 1819

The first significant change in the way of its propulsion occurred only in 1862, when the just 19 year old Pierre Lallement, a stroller maker in Nancy – everything is connected! – mounted a pedal on the first wheel. However, he did not start the mass production of this prototype, unlike another stroller maker of Paris, Pierre Michaux, who invented this same innovation at the same time and independently of Lallement (that is, already for the third time since the Knights of the Sun and the Moon).

Pierre Lallement riding his invention, and his bicycle

Original patent for the first pedal-driven bicycle, filed by Pierre Lallement,
US Patent No. 59,915, granted on November 20, 1866

Michaux’s velocipede

Michaux on his bicycle. An uncut visiting card, 1867 (from our post Visiting cards

The Michaux bicycle, whose name in France was velocipède, while in the USA the eloquent boneshaker, was further improved in by Eugène Meyer in France and James Starley in Britain. As a result, by the 1870s they created the well-known velocipede wich had wire-spoke tension wheels instead of wooden spokes, and pneumatic rubber tire instead of iron, and whose front wheel was much higher, for the sake of speed, than the rear ones, and so it is called “penny-farthing” in the literature on after the proportion of the contemporary British coins. Starley’s nephew, John Kemp Starley will be the one who in 1885 would create the prototype of a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, known as „safety bicycle”, thus reaching the height of the knowledge of the Knights of the Sun and the Moon – but this is already another story.

Penny-farthing: The bicycle is from the Škoda Museum, Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic

Two gentlemen riding penny-farthings in Los Angeles, 1886

Drawings of velocipedes from the Brockhaus’ Conversations-Lexicon, 13th ed., 1887, vol. 16

Mounting a velocipede in a bike office in Isfahan, Iran, around 2006. From our post Bicycles

Cycling out, ca. 1887

As the last picture shows, women’s clothing did not allow them to drive “regular” bikes for a long time. One solution was to lower the framework of the hobby horse, while the other the construction of tricycles (or quadracycles) in whose saddle the lady could sit as on a small triumphal charriot.

Lady’s pedestrian hobby-horse

Three-wheeled velocipede, or pilentum.Dandizettes on their “anti-straddling”

1885 Coventry Rotary Quadracycle in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

However, “safe bicycle” attracted more and more women since the 1890s, and consequently there was no other solution but the transformation of women’s garment and making it similar to that of cycling men. The fighters of the emancipation of women noticed this, and enthusiastically welcomed the new invention: “I think bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” – said American civil rights movement leader Susan B. Anthony.

“The Bicycle Babe”. Punch, 12 January 1895, p. 23.
“My dear Jessie, what on earth is that bicycle suit for!” “Why, to wear, of course.”
“But you haven’t got a bicycle!” “No; but I’ve got a sewing machine!”

But since we mentioned the stroller, it is worth noting its common feature of with the bicycle, namely that both were imagined and shaped for a long time on the model of a traditional means of travel. In the case of children’s stroller it was the horse carriage, while in that of the bicycle the horse itself, as it is shown by the early names “hobby horse” and “dandy horse”. While this is observable only in a stylized form on the vehicles of the adults, on the 19th-century (and even later) hobby horses for children this connection was graphically shown:

Left: USA 1875-1885; Right: Pennsylvania, 1850-1875

A. Garnier, France, a major manufacturer of horse tricycles from 1890 until 1922

For the first hobby horse riders traditional “riding schools” were organized, and the early cartoons show the scene of the purchase of hobby horses on the model of the traditional horse fair (and of course also the competitor, the traditional horse-dealer who suspects the black future with sinking heart).

Dennis Johnson’s hobby horse riding school

The Hobby Horse Dealer. Print made by George Cruikshank, 1819

And finally the era experienced and announced the triumph of the velocipede as its victory over its traditional rival, the horse:

Print of 1869, depicting a velocipede outrunning a trotting horse

We can beat the swiftest steed
With our new velocipede!

Continuation: See the photo album of early cyclists!

1 comentario:

George D dijo...

Wonderful! What an entertaining graphic history.