Antique Bicycles - 1816 to 1880


The celefire, or the speed-maker, was invented in the early part of the 19th century by Baron Von Drais, of Mannheim, on the Rhine. The baron was the chief forester of the duchy of Baden, and used the contraption to facilitate his inspection tours.  This antique bicycle was propelled by placing the feet upon the ground.  In 1816, an example of the celefire, was exhibited in the garden of Tivoli, a favorite public resort in Paris.



Antique Bicycle 1866

In November 1866, Pierre Lallement, a French mechanic who had been engaged in making children's carriages and the variety of velocipedes then in use, was granted a patent for the Lallement Velocipede. This antique bicycle was heavy and clumsy, with the front wheel, or driving-wheel, operated by cranks.  It still relied upon using the feet on the ground for support or for starting the machine. But, as the patent expressed,  that the greater the velocity, the more easily the upright position was maintained.


Antique Bicycle 1869

The cut of the American Velocipede of 1869 had a few variations of the earlier antique bicycle in France.


>Antique Bicycle 1880s

By the 1880s the front wheel had attained a diameter up to 64 in.  In the 1880s, England had the lead in the improvement and manufacture of the bicycle. There were more than two thousand different manufacturers of bicycles, producing over three hundred varieties of machines.

Vintage Cycling Clothing: How to dress for the Golden Age of Bicyles.

Antique Bicycle 1880s

The "American Star" bicycle was patented by Mr. G.W. Pressey in 1880. In this bicycle the rider was placed between the wheels and firmly supported to prevent the rider from "taking a header", a common accident of the day.  Another advantage claimed was that it was no longer necessary for a rider's being measured for the bicycle he desired to ride. "A small boy or the tallest man can ride any bicycle thus constructed, by simply adjusting the treadles to fit him..."

In 1880, The League of American Wheelmen was formed "To promote the general interests of bicycling; to ascertain, defend, and protect the rights of wheelmen; and to encourage and facilitate touring.

[Illustrations from Harper's Magazine, July 1881]