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Profesional men riding hobby horses, c 1820.

Profesional men riding hobby horses, c 1820.
1 8 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 10cm


Hand-coloured caricature showing a group of men on hobby horses of designs reflecting their profesions. The fishmonger rides a fish, the parson a Bible, the tailor a goose, and the lawyer rides a brief. 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 society was briefly gripped by a hobby horse craze.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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