1895 Ladies’ Telegram (Telegram Cycle Mfg Co)

Appleton cycling girls are anxious to have a ‘bloomer masquerade’ where all the girls will wear bloomers and the young men be compelled to don skirts. The boys admit that it is quite an inducement, but declare they are afraid there is some joke in the scheme, and they don’t want to make fools of themselves just to please the girls.

- Oshkosh Northwestern Newspaper, Wisconsin, 1895



telegram cycle mfg co

1895 Ladies’ Telegram

23″ Frame

28″ Wheels







Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA



The company was originally the Sercombe-Bolte Cycle Co, who marketed a front-driver named the ‘Telegram.’ The only known survivor of the 1892 Telegram front-driver, pictured above, was sold in a 2012 auction for over $23,000, and is now at the Bicycle Museum of America, in New York.

Sercombe-Bolte Cycle Co went out of business in 1893, to become the Telegram Cycle Mfg Co. Located on E. Water St, Milwaukee, Telegram was one of Wisconsin’s main cycle suppliers until its demise in August 1896.

In 1895 the company secured a contract with the local branch of Western Union to supply thirteen bicycles for messenger duties. ‘The Pneumatic’ magazine reports:

‘The Telegram people have closed a deal with the Milwaukee branch of the Western Union Telegraph Company for supplying thirteen of the messenger boys with Telegram wheels. The force of messengers will be reduced about one third as soon as the riding season opens. It is expected that the postal service will inaugurate the same system if this proves successful.’

Western Union messenger bicycles became a regular fixture in American life throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and it’s interesting to discover that this company pre-empted the initial demand for a bicycle courier service through their company name.

1894 Telegram Cycle Co