1870s Wooden Velocipede Tricycle (W. Quinn Patent)


1875 W Quinn Velocipede Tricycle Patent 1


1875-1880 Wooden Velocipede Tricycle,

W. Quinn Patent (1875)

27″ Front Wheel 

24″ Rear Wheels 


WIDTH: 14″


This large children’s velocipede tricycle conforms to the pattern of the earliest examples, with a wooden frame and wheels, and with a very narrow rear axle …which makes it extremely unstable. A dominant 1875 tricycle patent was from G.W Marble, who patented for the Western Toy Co; however, the wooden framework on that tricycle was rounded, whereas on this one the wooden body and front end is of square section. You can compare the Western Toy Co tricycle further down the page.

This example features elements of both W. Quinn’s patent from February, 1875 (below, left) and Marqua’s 1874 patent (below, right).


1870s tricycle patents

Regarding the impracticality of such a narrow rear axle, my guess is that this style of tricycle was originally designed as a smaller model, in which case a narrow axle with a lower centre of gravity would not have been a critical issue; but when the tricycle size was proportionally increased it did become a problem. The obsolescence of the larger model was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that children around the ages of four to eight would have been the prime group for tricycles, and as they became taller they would have been able to progress to bicycles. The size of this tricycle, with a 27″ front wheel, is more suitable for a twelve year old, or even an older child or young adult. Perhaps that is the reason it has survived? – i.e. it was not actually used.




Children’s tricycles were influenced by the adult tricycles that were produced in the wake of the first velocipedes around 1869 (above). Full-size tricycles were nowhere near as popular as two wheel velocipedes, and both models went out of fashion within only a few years, being superseded by the ‘Ordinary’ (‘penny farthing’) bicycle with metal spoked wheels, which did not lend itself to a three-wheel version.

Children’s toys in this era were expensive to produce, so were purchased only by wealthy families. The first tricycles were bespoke productions. The Quinn and Marble tricycles and their contemporaries represent the first attempts to manufacture children’s tricycles using pattern castings and standard size wooden body parts to enable them to be built more cheaply in bulk.

Though I’m not sure the term ‘mass-production’ can be applied to hand-built items such as this, where there was not a mass market, Singer’s sewing machines in America had already illustrated the potential for creating and capturing an enormous new market with lower prices, factory production, improved distribution and saturation advertising. This influenced manufacturers in every industry to lower production costs and create new markets.

The 1874 patent drawing below (P.J Marqua) relates primarily to hubs, but it illustrates a tricycle similar to the example featured here, showing that this style of wooden velocipede tricycle was being built at that time.

1874 marque tricycle hubs patent






































The history of bonfire celebrations on 5 November throughout the United Kingdom have their origins with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, where a group of English Catholics, including the now infamous Guy Fawkes, were foiled in their plot to blow up Parliament. The following January, an act entitled ‘An Acte for a publique Thancksgiving to Almighty God everie yeere of the Fifte day of November’ was passed, which held that the 5th of November should be held in perpetual remembrance of the plot, with a special service held in every parish church.

Celebrations in Lewes were not planned or carried out annually, but were more random events that more closely resembled riots. They continued until they were banned by Oliver Cromwell. However, they were reintroduced when King Charles II returned, but still on a random basis. Interest waned by the end of the 18th century but in the 1820s large groups of Bonfire Boys started celebrating with fireworks and large bonfires. The celebrations became rowdier and rowdier until 1847, when police forces were drafted in from London to sort out the Bonfire Boys. There were riots and fighting, and restrictions were clamped down on the celebrators, their locations moved to Wallands Park, at that time fields, not the suburb it is today. However, in 1850 they were allowed back to the High Streets. By this time the former riots had become much more like the processions carried out today. In 1853 the first two societies, Cliffe and Lewes Boroughwere founded, and most of the others were founded later in the same century.

The modern Lewes Bonfire Night celebrations are the largest in the world, and probably come closest to what might be described as ‘annual anarchy’ as any other event in the country. Though the event is not political, it is an opportunity for the ‘man-in-the-street’ to express discontent with the ruling class, and effigies of many unpopular figures are burnt in the bonfires.




Lewes Bonfire info with thanks to – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewes_Bonfire

Lewes Bonfire photo with thanks to – http://www.lewesbonfirecelebrations.com