1898 SEARS ROEBUCK & CO CATALOGUE COVER
Chicago was already America’s main distribution centre. Sears & Roebuck established their company in Chicago to create the world’s largest catalogue business, expanding to provide every commodity possible. To start with, items were supplied by third-party manufacturers but, with their initial sales success, the company bought out many of these concerns in order to guarantee supply.
Children’s riding toys was just one of many of the catalogues lines. At first, just a few of the better constructed examples were advertised by the company: they were not big sellers in the Victoria era because they were expensive items, bought by wealthy families for their children. After WW1, however, as prices were reduced by increased competition, cheaper mass-production methods and standardisation of components, children’s riding toys became a big business.
1897 Boy’s Velocipede Tricycle
Sears, Roebuck & Co ‘Wrought Iron Frame’ 1895 Pattern
This boys’ velocipede tricycle is an interesting early example. It has a one-piece cow-horn handlebar and wooden grips; fixed steering head of quite a crude design (but more advanced than the earlier open steering joint); coil-spring saddle support; and optional rubber tyres. The backbone splits where the front saddle support meets the frame, which is the easiest visual indicator of a pre-1900 boys’ velocipede tricycle.
As you can see it is very similar to the 1895 Sears Roebuck ‘All-Steel’ and the 1897 Sears Roebuck ‘Wrought Iron Frame’ boys’ tricycles illustrated. It might not be exactly the same model, but it definitely uses the same pattern; it could be slightly earlier or later, or a different model made by the same company. The pedals on this example have been replaced, and the saddle is leather rather than metal as seen in the illustrations.
1895 SEARS ROEBUCK & CO CATALOGUE
1897 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOGUE