By the late 1870s, Victorian society had become obsessed with the new from of transportation. Athletic aristocratic gentlemen took to (penny farthing) bicycles and the more daring among their womenfolk (and some of the less athletic gentlemen) opted for tricycles.
Soon their children were following in their footsteps! By the 1880s, companies found a good market for expensive children’s tricycles among their richer customers. Boys rode velocipede tricycles, with the pedals in the front wheels, while girls favoured the rather more sedate tiller-and-treadle tricycles. The examples below would be typical tricycles owned by a brother and sister in the late 1890s.
1890s Tiller & Treadle Juvenile Tricycle
20″ Rear Wheels
12″ Front Wheel
39″ Long/ 29″ High / 20″ Wide
This Victorian tiller and treadle tricycle is made in simple fashion, but with some ornate touches, particularly the handlebar grips – which are leather wound over wood, similar to those used on bicycles in the 1890s – and the curved nickel seat surround.
It’s not easy to date these tricycles accurately, but the thick solid rubber tyres and the use of nickel suggest it was manufactured in the mid to late 1890s. American examples generally had more ample cushions, so I believe that this one is either French or English. I can’t see any replacement parts: everything seems authentic to the tricycle. Apart from a small section of rubber missing from the near-side rear tyre (which does not affect its handling) and some wear on the leather parts of the grips, it is in excellent original condition.
FRONT WHEEL & PEDALS
UNDERNEATH THE TRICYCLE