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'Four and Twenty Hobby Horses all in a Row', 1819.

'Four and Twenty Hobby Horses all in a Row', 1819.
3 5 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 27cm


Coloured aquatint showing men in various costumes riding hobby horses; the characters of their profesions are reflected in their attire and stance. 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 the following year by Johnson, a coachmaker of Long Acre, London, who described it as a 'pedestrian curricle'. Hobby horses had no pedals, but were propelled by the rider pushing on the ground with his feet. As there were no brakes, the feet had to be dragged to slow the machine. Johnson started a school where prospective purchasers could learn how to ride them, and in 1819, fashionable London was gripped by a hobby horse craze.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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