Bicycles

The invention of the pneumatic tire in the 1880s gave birth to the modern bicycle, from the unwieldy penny-farthing. That meant anyone could ride one. Hundreds of manufacturers and machinists retooled their shops for the 1890s “bicycle craze” and it created a cultural revolution. “Let me tell you what I think about bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony wrote to Nellie Bly in 1896: “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Cycles-Medinger
Artist: Georges A. Bottini
35 1⁄2 x 51 in./90 x 129.6 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000.

An absolutely stunning Art Nouveau design for this little-known bicycle company.

Cycles-Teddy
Artist: Anonymous
15 3⁄4 x 23 5⁄8 in./40.2 x60 cm
Est: $800-$1000.

A perfect example of corporate storytelling from a century ago. “This wouldn’t have happened had you been on a Teddy cycle,” says the witty woman in red to the mangled monsieur with the busted bike. “You’ll need a patch in front.” She jerks her thumb:  “Over there are Teddy sewing machines.” And with that, madamoiselle deftly references the integrated conglomerate that TEDDY has become. Up above fly planes and airships, suggesting the next stage of TEDDY’s corporate conquest.

Phebus
Artist: Pal
43 x 58 in./109.4 x 147.2 cm
Est: $3,500-$4,000.

Phébus, named for the Greek god who drove the sun across the sky, made French motor vehicles from 1899 to 1903; they started out with motorized tricycles. In a scene out of the Commedia del Arté, Pierrot says goodbye to the forlorn Columbine as he leaves her and her bike behind.

Pneu-Wolber
Artist: Anonymous
23 5⁄8 x 31 1⁄2 in./60 x 80 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500.

France’s great gift to the U.S. was the Statue of Liberty, and in this riveting poster, the French bike tire company Wolber appropriates Lady Liberty as if to say: “strong tires mean freedom.”

View All Bicycle Posters
Live auction begins March 12, 2017 11 a.m. EDT
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