Happy are the owners of Fairy Bikes – Velocipedes, Scooters, Tricycles, Coasters – each ride so gracefully, speedily and safely. Only Fairy Bikes are made exactly like you want them and last the way your parents hope they will.
Playtime is always joytime on a Fairy. What fun you can have! Out in the glorious sun, riding here and there in the fresh air, building strong, healthy bodies.
Tell Dad and Mother to get you a Fairy because a Fairy costs no more and is so much stronger and better than ordinary bikes, rides so smoothly and looks so bright and gay.
– Fairy Cycle Advert
1927 Fairy Sidewalk Bicycle
(Later known as the ‘Famous Genuine Fairy Ball Bearing Speed Bike’)
Made by the Colson Co, of Elyria, Ohio, USA
and sold in Great Britain by Lines Bros Ltd, Old Kent Rd, London,
as The Fairycycle
The Fairy Sidewalk Bicycle was a popular child’s bike in the twenties. It was marketed extensively both in America and Great Britain. For many folks of a certain age it provided the first means of wheeled propulsion.
Bicycle manufacturers targeted the full-size two wheel bicycle to teenagers while younger children were provided with tricycles and scooters. However, during the 1920s and early 1930s, in a bid to attract younger riders, small two wheel bicycles were developed for children aged five to ten years. They were advertised as ‘sidewalk’ bicycles and, with their small wheels and low construction, were relatively safe.
The ‘Famous Genuine Fairy Ball Bearing Speed Bikes’ were advertised in the Spring & Summer 1931 catalogue of Sears, Roebuck and Co, Philadelphia, USA. Two models were available, the Fairy De Luxe with New Departure coaster brake, enamelled in ‘Willow green’ with red striping at a cost of US $15.47; and the Fairy Speed Bike without coaster brake finished in enamelled red with black striping for $11.48. It remains unclear how popular these small two-wheelers were though their cost would have been prohibitive as large rubber-tyred tricycles varied in cost from $2.69 to $4.39 and scooters $3.85.
They were marketed in Great Britain by Lines Bros Ltd of London as The Fairycycle.
Lines Bros created the famous ‘Tri-ang’ brand name after WW1. At the top of the page you can see the Fairy Cycle advertised on the side of the Tri-ang toy bus; I’ve reproduced its catalogue at the bottom of the page.
Elyria, Ohio, USA
1911 FAIRY ADVERT (The Worthington Co)
This bicycle was made by the Colson Company of Elyria. Ohio, USA. The company was established in 1885 by Winslow L. Fay as the Fay Manufacturing Company. Initial products included a dirt scraper used to smooth the roads for cycling, as well an adult tricycle marketed under the ‘Fairy’ name. The Juvenile Biycles advert below is from the Fay Manufacturing Co.
Fay sold the company to Arthur Garford in 1891, and he hired a salesman by the name of Fred Colson. Colson became vice president under George Worthington (who had changed the name of the company to the Worthington Manufacturing Company). In 1917 Colson persuaded stockholders to merge the Worthington Company and another division of the Fay company to form the Colson Company.
As president, Colson created a line of children’s bicycles, scooters and tricycles which were sold to hardware and department stores such as Sears Roebuck and Co under the ‘Fairy’ name. After the depression, features were added to the bicycles to differentiate them from their competitors, such as a two speed enclosed crank housing and a frame-mounted lever for gear changing.
Bicycles built by The Colson Corporation were sold by many different retailers from 1917 to 1953, with Firestone and Goodyear being the biggest and most well known. Colson even made special models that were sold exclusively through these two retailers. The Firestone Cruiser and Super Cruiser were Firestone exclusives and were made only one year, 1941. The Colson Company last made bicycles in 1953 when the bicycle division was sold to Evans. Today the Colson Caster Corporation is a member of the Chicago-based Marmon Group of Companies.
FAIRY CYCLE ADVERTS
1930 Fairy Catalogue below.
Come on you chaps! Look at this Fairycycle! With balloon pneumatic tyres, powerful brakes and glittering handlebars – what a bike! What a proud machine to ride! Fancy going out to tea on it! Fancy turning up at school on it! Fancy other chaops crawling round! Yes, you must wangle a Fairycycle.
The Mickey Mouse ‘Velocipede’ illustrated below was made in the 1940s. Exhibitions were held at Hotel McAlpin, New York City. These were trade fairs that showcased Colson products, as well as other companies with a tie-up with Disney. You can see the list of exhibitors further down the page.
Here’s the most unexpected good news wheel goods buyers have ever received. The Colson Company has not only linked the world’s most loved character to a nationally famous velocipede …but in so doing has successfully injected into the design – ACTION! When the youngsters of America see this – your sales are going to climb to unheard of levels.
LINES BROS LTD
Old Kent Rd, London