Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Victor Bicycles - Overman Wheel Co.

We're taking a break from postcards for the next three days. Instead, let's look at an antique bicycle advertising booklet from the late 1800s.  Here's the front cover:

Inside are many additional beautiful color pictures and sepia illustrations with music.

The illustration below shows "Victoria - Queen of Safeties", which is a reference to safety bicycles.  The safety bicycle replaced the penny-farthing design, which had a big front wheel and was prone to catapulting the rider over the handlebars. The new design made cycling safer and much more appealing for women and men alike, and helped to create the cycling craze of the 1890s.

Throughout the booklet, bicyclists are shown in association with other outdoor sports, including swimming, rowing, sailing, baseball, football, lacrosse, tennis, and hunting.

From 1883 until 1901,  Albert H. Overman's Wheel Co. manufactured the Victor bicycle. From what I can tell, the business did well for a number of years. Victor bicycles were a major player in the bicycle craze at the end of the century. But in 1901 Overman Wheel Co. was declared insolvent, and Overman lost his entire investment.

More illustration and information from this advertising booklet in tomorrow's post.


  1. Wonderful post. The other week I went to see a play about the early years of cycling : and the illustrations in your book are redolent of the themes in the play.

  2. Based on these images, I'm sure many pretty dresses were ruined by grease or caught in the exposed chains on these bicycles (best seen on the one the man is riding..), but they sure looked good!



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