The impressive ‘ordinary bicycle’ or: penny farthing

The first ordinary bicycles were built around 1871 - the last in 1892. In these twenty years, the highwheel developed from a heavy and dangerous thing, into a fast bicycle, which even today is a very pleasant ride.

After the safety bicycle was introduced, around 1885, these highwheels were called ‘ordinary bicycle’, strange as it may seem nowadays. Later they were nicknamed penny farthing, which is now a common name for these fantastic bicycles. 

I am trying to list the most important makers, but only if I have good pictures of their cycles. In the 1880’s there were hundreds and hundreds of small producers, especially in the UK.

If you want to identify an ordinary, you can be lucky. Sometimes you find initials of the maker, or a number. These can be helpful to identify a bike. But exactly as they do nowadays, our ancestors bought parts at other factories. The Bown Aeolus ball bearings (hubs) and pedals are very common. And for instance Rudge and BSA sold bearings to smaller makers, which means that you can’t tell a Rudge from its bearings! 

If you have questions about identification, feel free to send me an e-mail.

Also: if you want to donate new pictures (or sell old penny farthing bicycles ;-)) , you are welcome to contact me!

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Ordinary development