The art

Bicycles were so popular at the turn of the century they were used to sell everything – and they often featured whimsical animals riding them.

These 2-3/4” x 4-1/4” Victorian trade cards circa 1887 are courtesy of Lorne Shields. Chromolithography printing was used to promote J&P Coats “used by all.”


Hence, the inspiration for our original artwork to accompany the first pop-up for The Bicycle Museum. The blue heron is commonly seen in the Peterborough-Kawartha region and is a majestic beast that would most certainly be able to pedal the penny farthing — indeed he may just take flight!

heron small

Image by Ian Sullivan Cant. Available for sale, framed or unframed.

Most cycling enthusiasts would be familiar with the ‘famous’ images of chickens racing penny farthing bicycles, but we’ve also seen other modern iterations of animals and their high wheels. Toronto artist Stephen Appleby-Barr created a wonderfully dandy cat with a high wheel for Magic Pony to sell many years ago, and this charming toad on a high wheel enjoying a beverage (Steamwhistle perhaps?) makes it look so easy, you can’t help but love his style.

The bicycle craze was so hot that manufacturers, retailers, artists, etc. used the bicycle to boost sales. High wheels obviously pre-date this period, so the image could be earlier, but a lot of these really kitcshy bike images are from around then. The 3 Chickens image was produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons in the mid/late 1880s for an Xmas Card, and may have been used as a Trade Card. It was published as a Chromolithograph, according to collector and historian Lorne Sheilds.


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