Cycling Hipsters, if you were truly worth your ironic sideburns and artisanal grease stains, you'd abandon that fixie and mount one of these bad boys. The Smithsonian honors National Bike Month with a dive into the image archives for this photo, the forerunner of the modern bicycle: a draisine from around 1818. More about this "dandy horse," below.
In 1817, Karl Drais, a young inventor in Baden, Germany, designed and built a two-wheeled, wooden vehicle that was straddled and propelled by walking swiftly. Drais called it the laufmaschine or “running machine.”
A forester for the Grand Duke of Baden, Drais used his laufmaschine to inspect the Duke’s forest. The laufmaschine soon became a novelty among Europeans, who named it the “draisine.”
By 1818, the draisine craze reached the United States. Charles Wilson Peale, a well-known portrait artist, helped to popularize the draisine by displaying one in his museum in Philadelphia. Many American examples were made, and rentals and riding rinks became available in Eastern cities.
By 1820, the high cost of the vehicle, combined with its lack of practical value, limited its appeal and made it little more than an expensive toy. The two-wheeled vehicle would not become sustained until pedals were added in the late 1800s.
Donated to the Smithsonian in 1964, this draisine is the oldest cycle in its collection of 61 cycles. They reflect social trends and technological developments that have shaped the growth and popularity of riding since 1818.
Lots more wonderful old things like this in the Smithsonian's exhibition, "America on the Move."
(thanks, Jessica Porter Sadeq)
Happy 117th birthday to Emma Morano of Verbenia, Italy! Morano is the oldest person on Earth and the last living individual born in the 19th century. From the BBC: Ms Morano’s longevity, she admits, is partly down to genetics – her mother reached 91 and several sisters reached their centenary – and partly, she says, […]
Elly from Microcosm publishing writes: “Our next book has been in the works for years, but as we launch our Kickstarter we find it’s become terrifyingly current: Soviet Daughter is a rather swashbuckling story of her great-grandmother Lola, who came of age in the Soviet Ukraine, in the wake of the October Revolution.”
Peterborough, England photographer Chris Porsz’s Reunions photo series and book presents his remarkable street snapshots of myriad characters taken in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s juxtapozed with those same individuals at the location of the original photographs. See more: Reunions
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]