The above photo shows this velocipede tricycle with its original owner aged around eight years old, c1900. The tricycle was sold by his family recently. The leather top of the saddle is broken, but otherwise it is in excellent condition, obviously having been cherished over the years, along with the original 120-year-old framed photo of it.
1895 Boy’s Velocipede Tricycle
Sears, Roebuck & Co ‘Wrought Iron Frame’
23″ Front wheel; 17.5″ rear wheels
This boys’ velocipede tricycle is similar to the 1895 Sears Roebuck ‘Wrought Iron Frame’ boys’ tricycle illustrated below. It could be slightly earlier or later, or a different model made by the same manufacturer – Sears Roebuck did not update the illustrations over the years. Comparing it, the pedals on this example are rounded, it is not fitted with a wire imitation front fender and the saddle was leather rather than metal.
Sears Roebuck did not make the tricycles. The manufacturers who supplied them usually made similar models which they sold themselves or through other outlets – the various retailers may have had different requirements regarding price or quality.
SEARS ROEBUCK & CO
1898 SEARS ROEBUCK & CO CATALOGUE COVER
Chicago was already America’s main distribution centre. Sears & Roebuck established their company in Chicago to create the world’s largest catalogue business, expanding to provide every commodity possible. To start with, items were supplied by third-party manufacturers but, with their initial sales success, the company bought out many of these concerns in order to guarantee supply.
Children’s riding toys was just one of many of the lines in the catalogues. At first, just a few of the better constructed examples were advertised by the company: they were not big sellers in the Victoria era because they were expensive items, bought by wealthy families for their children. After WW1, however, as prices were reduced by increased competition, cheaper mass-production methods and standardisation of components, children’s riding toys became a big business.
1895 SEARS ROEBUCK & CO CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1897 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOGUE
PERIOD PHOTOGRAPH OF SIMILAR TRICYCLE