'Pedestrian Hobbyhorse', 1819.
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm

'Pedestrian Hobbyhorse', 1819.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Coloured aquatint, showing a man riding a hobby horse in a park. The forerunner of the bicycle, the 'Hobby Horse' or 'Dandy Horse' was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais in France in 1817. It was introduced to England the following year by Denis Johnson, a coachmaker of Long Acre, London, who took out a British patent and described it as a 'Pedestrian Curricle'. Hobby horses had no pedals or brakes, but were propelled by the rider pushing on the ground with his feet, and dragging the feet to slow the machine. Johnson started a school where prospective purchasers could learn how to ride the machine and, in 1819, fashionable London society was briefly gripped by a craze for riding a hobby horse. Published by R Ackermann, London.

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