1881 race between a trotter and a bicycle


Burt Miller.  “New York.–The Trial of speed between Miss Elsa Von Blumen, on a bicycle, and the trotting mare “Hattie B.” at Rochester.”  From Harper’s Weekly.  New York: June 18, 1881.  Wood engraving.  Hand color.  6 3/4 x 9 1/4.  Very good condition.


This print was issued in Harper’s Weekly, a New York based newspaper in the last half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  In weekly issues, Harper’s presented a mixture of news stories, gossip, poetry, and most notably, wood-engraved illustrations.  These pictures remain one of the best sources for lively, informative images of nineteenth-century America.  With photographs in a primitive stage, and no television, it is through these illustrations that much of the country got its visual information about the events, personalities and places of the time.  These illustrations are also one of the few sources we have today for these same things.  Sporting subjects were one of the most popular of these prints and they provide some of the only historic, contemporary images we have of these sports.  This image shows a race between a trotter, Hattie B, and “Miss Elsa Von Blumen on a bicycle.”  The latter is clearly winning…