WOODEN WHEELS: In 1872, Claude Monet painted a portrait of his son Jean on his horse tricycle. The example owned by the Monet family had wooden wheels, similar to adult velocipedes that became popular in France in the 1860s.
METAL WHEELS: The next development of this popular French toy was the fitting of metal rims without tyres.
SOLID RUBBER TYRES: Some makers fitted solid rubber tyres to their children’s tricycles with metal wheels before the end of the century; I’ve seen them advertised as an option in an 1895 Gamage catalogue. Solid rubber tyres were not new – Michaux & Cie fitted them to their adult velocipedes in 1868.
FRENCH v ENGLISH STYLE: The English juvenile horse tricycle design usually had a handlebar vertically mounted through the horse head or neck, and pedals in the front wheel – velocipede style. The most common early French design was chain driven and motivated by handles horizontally mounted through the horse’s head.
1880s Horse Tricycle with Wooden Wheels (French)
Handle Operated; chain to sprocket on rear axle
Cast Iron Head, Wooden Body (Mushroom/beige colour)
20″ Wheels with metal band ‘tyres’
UNDERNEATH THE 1880s HORSE TRICYCLE
WOODEN WHEELS v METAL WHEELS