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'The French Celeripede', 1869.

'The French Celeripede', 1869.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 21cm x 32cm


Two types of early forerunners to 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 the following year by Denis Johnson, a coachmaker of Long Acre, London, who described it as a 'Pedestrian Curricle'. Hobby horses had no pedals or brakes, but were propelled by the rider pushing on the ground with the 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. Illustration from 'The Velocipede: its past, its present & its future' by J F B (London, 1869).

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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