Several generations of bicycle enthusiasts learned to ride on Colson Fairy velocipedes.
The original velocipedes of 1869/1870 were the first bicycles, subsequently superseded by the ‘ordinary’ (‘penny farthing’), which was also a front-driving machine. Within five years after the introduction of the safety bicycle in 1886, front-driving machines went out of fashion, and the new chain-driven style of ‘safety bicycle’ dominated. However, cycle manufacturers recognized that parents and grandparents still had a soft spot for the front-driving bicycles that were around when they were younger. So they made front-driving ‘velocipede’ style tricycles that adults could buy for their for children. Colson was the market leader, and their Fairy cycles and velocipedes became the best-known machines, their design evolving over the years, from the very basic turn-of-the-century tricycles, as seen above, to the more refined (and safer) design around WW1, below. Lines Brothers subsequently made this model under license in Great Britain, under their new ‘Triang’ brand. The secret of the success of the Colson Fairy was very simple: although there were many cheaper imitations on the market, the Fairy was made uniformly to the highest standard, using the same parts used in adult bicycles. Whereas the cheaply-made machines usually broke and were subsequently scrapped, a Colson was more likely to survive a child’s use and be handed down to the next generation.
1911 Colson Fairy Ball-Bearing Velocipede Model No 1
16″ Front Wheel
10″ Rear Wheels
29″ Long; 26″ High; 16″ Wide
Suitable for Age 3-4
‘BALL-BEARING: A REAL VELOCIPEDE FOR LITTLE TOTS’
This Colson Fairy Velocipede Tricycle is in excellent original condition, as it was stored in a warm loft for most of its life. So, despite its age, the bright parts, paintwork and box lining have survived intact.
The handlebar grips were replaced at some time in its life with the more attractive pointed-end grips that became fashionable on adult bicycles. The solid front tyre has a dent, but this does not prevent it being used.
The saddle, a scaled-down version of those used on American adult bicycles and motorcycles, is in very good condition. Note the early style of clamp to attach the saddle to the seat post; this type of clamp, with the tightening nut underneath, was not used on adult bicycles after 1900. As you can see from the 1920s Colson Fairy brochure at the bottom of the page, the later design changed in several ways: the headstock was painted; it used the later seat clamp; a front mudguard was fitted; and the rear part of the frame fitted directly onto the rear axle, rather than being attached to a double tube above the axle, as on this model.
1911 COLSON FAIRY CATALOGUE
1920s FAIRY TRICYCLE BROCHURE