Velocipede or Bone Shaker
Local History Room volunteer, Agnes Jenkins researched articles from the Sparta Democrat dated January, February and March 1896 and the Chicago Times.
The general distinguishing identifier for a velocipede versus a bicycle is the placement of the pedals. The velocipede’s pedals are fixed directly on the front wheel of this form of transportation. We have an excellent replica of a velocipede by the front entrance of the Sparta City Hall. Our tricycles and high wheel are velocipedes, too. The bicycle “Little Ben”, Harlan Perry, rides in parades and takes to tourism trade shows promoting the Sparta area is a velocipede, also Ben Bikin’ Welcome to Sparta sign on the cornor of Water Street and Wisconsin Street is a velocipede. You can see the orginals in the museum on exhibit. The museum gift shop has small replicas for sale.
The old articles are entertaining not only for their information, but for the style of writing of the era. Those learning to ride the velocipedes were referred to as “Young swells and bloods of the town”. Two wheel velocipedes were intended for the “male sex only” and the fair sex largely patronized the tricycle, the seat is more commodious than that of the two wheel velocipede, having sides and backs of wicker and a horse hair cushion to sit upon.