Normally, for our full-throttle Thursday, we talk about vehicles with motors. But we're beyond just sticking to categories because they make sense, here at the Treasure Tour blog. That's why today, we would like to harken back to something that was introduced before the automobile hit the streets. But not far before. It was first seen in the 1870's, and went by many names: the "High Wheeler," the "Ordinary," the "Penny Farthing." But we can just call it the ridiculously dangerous bicycle before there was the actual bicycle. The man accredited with the invention. of this transportation anomaly was Eugene Meyer of Paris, France. In 1869, he introduced the wire-spoke tension. wheel that would become an important part of wheeled transportation after his invention.
The front wheel of the Penny Farthing (named after two coins used in English currency during the late-19th century, one super big and one teeny tiny) was crazy big - around four feet tall, give or take. The size of the wheel provided a cushion to the driver, which made a difference considering that the tires were solid rubber and in no way insulated them from bumpy roads. The driver would pretty much have to climb onto the top of the bike, and be acutely aware of road conditions because a fall from that height could be dangerous - even fatal. Of course, the development of the safety bike - with its pneumatic tires, and smaller wheels connected to the pedals with chains that allowed for much more practical usage - would be the end of the very short-lived age of the Penny Farthing. Maybe not such a bad thing, considering the danger in which the driver was placed.