1870s Boys’ Propellor Tricycle (A. Christian Patent)
Rear wheels 16.5″
Front wheel 10.5″
The 1868 ‘propellor’ patent provided the dominant design for children’s tricycles in the USA until the mid-1870s when the velocipede tricycle – with pedals in the front wheel – was patented by the Western Toy Co.
Velocipede tricycle had already been built in France, but the Franco-Prussian War had affected production. Pedal operated children’s toys and those operated by handle and chain (such as the ‘horse velocipede tricycle’) were very popular, and superseded lever operated ‘propellors’ such as this. But lever operated riding toys made a resurgence in the 1890s as ‘irish mails’ (the US name), ‘cyclo-rameurs’ (as they were known in France) or ‘handcars’ as they were described in Britain. The ‘propellor’ could therefore be considered the grandaddy of the irish mail.
This example retains original paint, and its wooden wheels have metal rims. With the wooden hubs and spokes, they could be considered to be scaled-down velocipede wheels, which, of course, were adapted from cartwheels.
1869 PROPELLOR TRICYCLE PATENT: A. CHRISTIAN
THE VELOCIPEDE PROPELLOR