Profesional men riding hobby horses, c 1820.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand-coloured caricature: men on hobby horses of designs reflecting their profesions. The Duke of Wellington rides a cannon, the Judge a gibbet, another duke rides a sack of money, and Prince George rides a barrel of punch. 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 called it a 'pedestrian curricle'. Hobby horses had no pedals; the rider pushed on the ground with his feet. Johnson started a school where prospective purchasers could learn how to ride the machine and, in 1819, fashionable London was briefly gripped by a hobby horse craze.