Velocipede,Serpentine Style - Calvin Witty - N.Y.C. 1868


This velocipede was likely ordered by the Hanlon Brothers, a traveling Acrobatic Troupe, in the early Summer of 1868 . It was built by the carriage firm of Calvin Witty, Brooklyn New York, and based upon the Nov. 20 ,1866 Lallement patent drawing .


The Hanlons had arrived in the United States in January,1868 following a successful European tour . It is likely that they had witnessed the use of the velocipede on the streets of Paris during the Spring,Summer,Fall of 1867. They may have seen it on display and demonstrated at the International Exposition, a World's Fair, held in Paris from April to November 1867. During the Summer of 1868 the Hanlons added the velocipede to their repertoire staging mock races and performing acrobatic trick riding .They secured patents for a couple of velocipede improvements. They created a simple "Hanlon Style" velocipede for their use which went on to be copied by many a blacksmith and carriage maker. Initially the Hanlons used the carriage firm of Calvin Witty to build their velocipedes.

Hanlon Brothers

The Hanlons deserve a great deal of credit for contributing to the Velocipede Craze of 68/69 .


This particular "boneshaker" is one of two known survivors and has the Nov 20, 1866 Lallement patent stamp with the license number 434 . It represents the first frame style and is one of the earliest American examples of a velocipede .

Young Man with Calvin Witty Velocipede

Photo courtesy of the Lorne Shields collection