Penny-Farthing — Then and Now


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Penny-farthings—the original Biggie Smalls! Photo:

Penny-farthings—the original Biggie Smalls! Photo:

Penny-farthings were considered the first functioning bicycles. Named as such because of the relative sizes between the wheels which resembled the discrepancies between the penny and farthing, a British coin. They represented cutting edge innovation, forward thinking and progression during the Victorian era. From their modest start as a form of independent transportation to their current incarnation as a quirky novelty, these bicycles with one large wheel and one small wheel can be steered by trained riders who celebrate the history of this bike.

While we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out how the heck you get down from these things (let alone, get on them!), we’re still in awe of then revolutionary piece of machinery. Here is a collection of penny-farthings — both new and old to get the gears turning in your head. We hope these oddities inspire the inventor in you, and lead you on a path to new adventures.

  • Greta S.

    I would love to see someone riding a penny farthing today!

  • LisaB

    I love the image of the person who just bailed on one of these. This seems liek the most realistic, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting one.

  • I have to laugh every time I see penny-farthings – it makes you wonder why the creator of them decided that one HUGE wheel combined with one itty bitty tiny wheel was the best mode of transportation. Thanks for sharing the photos – really interesting post and you raise a great question – how on earth DOES one get down from these??