Unless otherwise specified, the machine is furnished without horizontal brace and without dress guards. When both brace and dress guards are ordered, the extra charge is $2.
The ‘Single Tube’ bicycle was the first design manufactured exclusively for women. There was no extra bracing to the frame, which allowed a female rider to mount and dismount from the side without any encumbrance. However, as female riders also preferred their bicycles to be of light weight, heavyweight tubing could not be used. Despite using wider diameter tubing to compensate, the single tube design was inherently weak. Soon after its introduction, the majority of manufacturers added extra strengthening to their single tube bicycles and, by the turn of the century, the design had evolved into the more familiar ‘loop frame’.
As you can see in the illustration below, by 1891 all the models in the G&J range had extra bracing except the one featured here, the American Ideal Rambler (for Girls). And even this model came with extra bracing as an option, which could be ordered for $2 extra. My assumption is that if the machine was intended for occasional use by a young girl, it was okay unbraced; but for regular use by a ‘lady of light weight’, as she was described in the company’s catalogue, she was recommended to pay the extra $2 to have the small brace fitted above the bottom bracket.
It is the fact that this bicycle does not have extra bracing that makes it particularly interesting. It’s probably an 1890 model, still unsold the following year, so offered as a cheap option in 1891 to clear the surplus – at $65 rather than $125 or $135 for the larger models (which had 24″ front wheel and 28″ rear wheel).
1890/1891 Gormully & Jeffery ‘American Ideal Rambler’ (for Girls)
with ‘spring frame’
Front Wheel: 22 x 1 3/4″
Rear Wheel: 26 x 1 3/4″
The hinged rear fork on the model range was designed to combat vibration, the company describing the bicycle as a ‘spring frame.’ The rear spring combined with the forward angle of front fork (below) provides this machine with a unique profile.
This is a recent purchase, and I’ll take better photos after it arrives.
1891 GORMULLY & JEFFERY CATALOGUE EXTRACTS