'Views of the Lady's Pedestrian Hobby Horse', 1819.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm

'Views of the Lady's Pedestrian Hobby Horse', 1819.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Aquatint, printed by L Harrison and published by R Ackermann, London. The forerunner of the bicycle, the 'Hobby' or 'Dandy Horse' was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais in France in 1817. It was introduced to England by Denis Johnson, a coachmaker of Long Acre, London, who described it as a 'Pedestrian Curricle' and started a school where prospective purchasers could learn how to ride the machine. An inscription explains how it works; 'The rider is conveniently seated on the small square board and leans forward against a well-padded cushion...' Hobby horses had no pedals or brakes, but were propelled and slowed by the rider pushing or dragging on the ground with his or her feet.

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