"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Velocipedes and Quadricycles

A velocipede was an early form of bicycle propelled by working pedals on cranks fitted to the front axle; now used as an archaic term for a bicycle.

 An American Sawyer velocipipede from 1855

 The term was coined by Frenchman Nicéphore Niépcee in 1818 to describe his version of the Laufmqschine, which was invented by the German Karl Drais in 1817. The term "velocipede" is today, however, mainly used as a collective term for the different forerunners of the monowheel, unicycle, bicycle, tricucle, and quadricycle developed between 1817 and 1880.

In 1896 Henry Ford introduced his Ford Quadricycle - and engine driven vehicle, no longer requiring the driver to pedal.


  1. Love, love these photos. They made me think of an era I forgot from long ago. I used to live in NY over 25 years ago, and there was a fad in the city for awhile of riding unicycles. It was amazing how they could ride on one huge wheel and remain balanced.

  2. Hello Scriptor Senex (sed juvenis in corde tuo ;-),

    I came across your blogs and found them interesting. Nice pictures (the ones from Hebrides remind me of a few days spent on Skye years ago). Regarding velocipedes, I would like to share the words of a traditional song -in the Breton language- my mother used to sing me:
    "Aotrou Person 'zo paotr brao war velocipede (bis)
    War velo, velo, velo, war velocipede,
    War velo, velo, velo, war velo, velo,"

    which means "Our rector/priest is a handsome fellow when he is riding his velocipede"...
    The words are sung to a dancing tune. They were certainly sung to make fun of a local priest and were meant to be sarcastic since in Brittany some Catholic priests would forbid dancing parties at the time they were imagined. Have a pleasant words hunting!

  3. Thanks for the kind sentiment, Setu. My heart only feels young because someone has stuck spare bits onto it!!! I love the idea of the song.

  4. I was wondering if you might have a higher resolution version of the first photo above, the one with the caption, "A velocipede was an early form of bicycle propelled by working pedals on cranks fitted to the front axle; now used as an archaic term for a bicycle," that you might be able to share with me. I am looking to print a poster of it for personal use because I think it is awesome! So the second question would be to make sure it would be okay for me to use for personal use (not sure of its origins and any copyright). If all sounds good, could you email it to me at TJNELSEN@gmail.com. Thanks, Tyler

    1. I'm replying by e-mail but basically I got it off the web from a source that didn't acknowlege where it came from originally so I can't help. I cam't even recall which blog it was off. Or maybe it was one of those that get circulated on Pinterest or Tumblr.