I’ve been looking for antique bicycling photos ever since I spotted this on at the Liberty Antiques Festival this April:
Such a great photo, but I did not buy it because it was priced at $75. Not that it is not worth that; it’s just that I didn’t feel like I could afford to spend that much on one photo. Still, the owner, Diane at Sport and Spool Antiques, was nice enough to let me take photos and to post them on my site. The photo was dated 1898.
The fad of the 1890s was bicycling. Fueled by feature articles in magazines and newspapers, men and women turned to the bicycle by the thousands. Remember, this was before the car, and so the bicycle was not just a toy – it was personal transportation.
But there was a major hindrance to women riding bicycles – their skirts. The problem was solved in several ways. First, and probably most common, was the wearing of a shorter skirt, with the hem several inches from the ground. This skirt would have been paired with bicycle boots that laced almost to the knee, or wool gaiters worn over the shoes. Less common were the much-talked-about bicycle bloomers and special skirts designed that buttoned to form a true skirt, but unbuttoned when riding to make a sort of divided skirt or culotte.
The photo below is a new purchase, from etsy, for considerably less than $75. The young lady is identified as Miss Elizabeth Ewing. Unfortunately there is no date or place noted, but this would have been in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Isn’t she the sporty one!