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Object Record

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Object ID # 1955.011.001
Object Name Bicycle, Ordinary
Title Ordinary Bicycle from the 1890s (Altered Now)
Lexicon category 7: Distribution & Transportation Artifact
Year Range from 1890
Year Range to 1900
Made Unknown
Place of Origin Unknown
Description "Ordinary Bicycle" (Penny Farthing) that was used at Owen Sound, Ontario. The seat of this bicycle is not original, as the original one was destroyed during a 2001 fire. The rubber tyre currently on the bicycle is also not original to the bicycle, but was put on after the fire. There is a grey-painted, custom-made metal display stand available to help display the bicycle in an upright position. "Ordinary" bicycles had a direct drive on the front wheel. Sometimes people needed help to get onto the high seat (there is a small step to help one) but some cyclists could vault into their saddles quite rapidly.
Provenance Reportedly, this bicycle hung over the Cross bicycle store on 8th St. East, Owen Sound, Ontario for some time. 8th St. E. was known as Union Street prior to 1909. Mr. J. H. Cross had a "bicycle livery" there in the early 20th-century. It is very likely an 1890s item, although its appearance is greatly altered now due to it being salvaged from a 2001 fire.

It then belonged to George Holmes. In the 1911 census of Owen Sound, Ontario, George Holmes was 50 years old. He and his wife Mary were residing at 895 4th Ave. East at that time.

It later belonged to their son, Aubrey E. Holmes (died 1965).
Collection Sporting & Recreational Equipment, 19th-c Collection
Material Metal/Rubber/Wire/Paint
Found Owen Sound, Grey County
People Holmes, George
Holmes, Aubrey
Function An "Ordinary" was a vehicle for men only, as a woman's skirts would make it impossible or dangerous to ride one. Despite their precariousness, ordinaries were often used for bicycle racing.