1909 Keystone ‘No 31′ Tiller & Treadle Girls’ Tricycle

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1870s velocipede tricycle

1909 Keystone ‘No 31’ Girls’ Tricycle

Tiller steering. Treadle operation

Made by Edward K. Tryon Co of Philadelphia

12″ Front Wheel

20″ Rear Wheels

Adjustable seat

This treadle-powered children’s tricycle has 20″ rear wheels with ‘steel tires’ – ie bare wheels without rubber – which designates it as a ‘No 31’ model suitable for a child 4 to 6 years old. A feature was its seat which could be easily adjusted.

This style of children’s tricycle was manufactured from the 1880s, and smaller versions were still being sold up to WW2. They were often bought for children by grandparents nostalgic about their own childhood. Though the first examples had metal rims without tyres, rubber tyre models soon came onto the market at a higher price. In the case of this tricycle, the addition of rubber tyres doubled the price from $6 to $12.

Tiller & treadle tricycles were marketed towards girls, while front-driver velocipede tricycles were aimed at boys. This example is in good all round condition and ready to use.




1885 velocipede tricycle

The first velocipede tricycles with driving treadles and tiller steering appear to have been made around 1851. (See the example below at the Science Museum in London). Only one rear wheel was driven, with the other having a brass-bushed hub revolving freely on the driving axle. The wheels were wooden with iron tyres. The one illustrated below has a 24″ front wheel and 35″ rear wheels.

Tricycle, c 1850.

After the invention of the front-wheel driven Velocipede captured the public imagination in 1869, the cycle industry was created. Design evolved and, by 1880, the Ordinary (‘penny farthing’) and the high wheel tricycle ruled the roads.

Treadle-controlled velocipede tricycles for children were made at first by various small manufacturers. They were expensive items in their day, purchased by rich families for their children. Early examples used wooden hubs and parts but, by the 1880s, wheels were made of steel, with cast iron fittings.

The earliest models had metal wheel rims that did not take a tyre but, by the 1880s, steel wheels with solid rubber tyres were offered as an option.

The smaller manufacturers of velocipede tricycles were less likely to fit a head badge, as they normally supplied retailers in bulk on a wholesale basis. These sales outlets and distributors included department stores, catalogue companies and local shops, who generally fitted their own badges and often gave the tricycles individual names. As a result, the same tricycle could have a different name at various outlets. Larger manufacturers also supplied these retail outlets, but usually operated their own distribution networks and agents too, so were more likely to add their own company names or model names to those sold direct to the public.

“The Edward K. Tryon Co was a sporting goods retailer and wholesaler located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were in business under various Tryon names from 1811 until sometime in the mid to late 1950s. Edward K. Tryon was the largest sporting goods retailer in the United States and possibly the world for some time. Their primary business was firearms and hunting related items but they also sold and produced a wide variety of outdoors and sports items. These were sold under a variety of trade names such as Apollo Bicycles, Keystone Shotguns, Pennell Fishing Reels, Imperial Fishing Rods, Gold Medal Fishing Hooks and Tryon-Tru-Temper Cutlery. Their primary trade mark was the Sign Of The Golden Buffalo.” *







1868 harpers

Until the advent of the safety bicycle – the first successful ‘rear-driver’ with central pedals was the Premier crossframe in 1886 – women drove tricycles while men rode, first, ‘boneshaker’ velocipedes (above) followed by ordinaries, below. This was a reflection of both the athletic prowess required to ride early bicycles and also conservative dress code of the day: tricycles allowed women to ride with modesty.

1880s cycling scene


late 1880s early 1890s


Family portrait tricycle bicycle copy


1898 velocipede tricycle

* Tryon Co info with thanks to – https://www.allaboutpocketknives.com/knife_forum/viewtopic.php?t=66144