The 1860s saw the successful introduction of the pedal bicycle, which, over the following two decades evolved into a form that could be easily and safely ridden by the average enthusiast. Subsequent public approval created a second ‘industrial revolution’ and the birth of the advertising industry. The 1890s was the bicycle’s most diverse decade, innovations during this time focussing on the fine details that turned the machine into the bicycle as we know it today.
Riding schools were set up everywhere to encourage new riders, the new styles of ladies bicycles being the most appropriate for learning to ride. For a total novice yet to learn to balance, the Hickory Wheel Co added braced outriggers to their ‘Elliott Tutor’ Ladies Safety:
The object of this device is to enable beginners too learn the pedal motion and to give them confidence when in the saddle, without the assistance of an instructor.
Bear in mind that bicycles at this time were only fixed wheel (the freewheel not coming into use until 1898), so they were harder to ride. Of course, adults in the mid-1890s had not learned to ride as children. The concept of independent personal wheeled transportation was still a novelty, but was embraced with a remarkable fortitude by women who were understandably eager to be able to jump on a bike and ride off into the sunset without their menfolk to govern their movements.
1894 Elliott Hickory Ladies Safety
This fabulous Elliott Hickory Safety is an interim model introduced by the company as they changed from their first ladies safety, the Model C (illustrated at the top of the page) to the 1894 Columbia frame. An early 1890s twin down tube ladies frame is very rare nowadays. But with the luxury fittings provided by the Elliott Hickory Co, this is an outstanding example of the innovations introduced in the early years of cycling.
The wooden handlebars and mudguards compliment the superb Hickory wheels, whose wooden hubs are reminiscent of the velocipedes that came onto the market in 1869. A candle lamp was a popular choice at the time, being much easier to use than acetylene. The black paintwork is good overall, though there are scrapes in a few places; I’m not sure if the paint is original or if it’s an old-time restoration. The saddle is in beautiful condition, and the machine is ready to ride.
1894 ELLIOTT HICKORY CATALOGUE
1893 ELLIOTT HICKORY CATALOGUE
By comparing their bicycle, above, with their sulky, below, it’s easy to see why the Hickory Wheel Co branched out into bicycle production. They imported frames and components from the Pope Mfg Co, the same used with Columbia bicycles. The essential difference between a Columbia and an Elliott Hickory was the wheels.
1890s LADIES’ BICYCLE SADDLE COVER
My sister is an antique dealer of long-standing, who puts on wonderful vintage fairs in Blandford and Wimborne. My xmas present from her this year is this fabulous 1890s bicycle saddle cover. Its condition is as good as new. When I visited her house (above), I had the Elliott Hickory on board: as this bicycle seemed the ideal machine for showing off the saddle cover, I took these photos on the spot.
THE 1892 OLD HICKORY ALMANAC
Elliott Hickory Cycle Co produced a totally unique range of bicycles. Their wheels provide a perfect illustration of the crossover from the old form of transportation to the new.
After one glance at the 1892 Old Hickory Almanac (link below), I think you’ll agree that they are the quirkiest company in cycling history.
Packs of dogs were a scourge for lone travellers. With the increasing popularity of cycling, companies started to sell a variety of sprays and guns to assist riders when attacked. The Elliott Hickory Co’s 1892 bulb spray was an early version, which soon developed into a common accessory, seen below. Cyclists subsequently carried what became known as ‘dog scarers’ which fired blanks or caps.
Cyclists in some countries could also be accosted by bandits, so riders might be armed with regular pistols.