Saturday, October 4, 2014

Souvenir Saturday: A Bicycle made for Two ...

This Daisy doesn't look
 as if she is enjoying her ride. Note the headlight..
The penny-farthing (or 'ordinary'), a  bicycle with a large front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel, was an 1870s development, by an English inventor, of the earlier French ‘boneshaker’. It was the first of this type of machine to be called a bicycle. It could reach high speeds and headers off these machines were an occupational hazard for cyclists.

Though the bicycle came into popular use in the 1880s it was not commonly adopted as a mode of transport for females until the 1890s. This was partly because the bicycle posed serious problems when it came to what to wear: how was a woman to keep her legs decently covered? No fabric was heavy enough to prevent the skirt of one's costume blowing up and revealing a length of stockinged ankle and calf. Some ladies resorted to putting small lead weights in the hem of the garment but this made the cyclist somewhat ungainly during intervals between bicycling and walking 

In France, knickerbockers were soon discovered as a solution but they were far from glamorous, being very wide and unflattering to the female form. In wet weather a caped raincoat or mackintosh was donned adding to the cumbersome discomfort of the attire. Most ladies simply put up with the inconveniences of dress as the bicycle was so useful and such fun it became all the rage. The penny-farthing, though it fairly soon became supplanted by refined models and eventually by the safety bicycle, has remained an iconic symbol of the late Victorian era. 

Bloomers for Bicycling

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