Adult tricycles were introduced to the cycling public in the late 1870's. Cycling pioneer James Starley, of the United Kingdom, added the differential to the rear axle and greatly improved the machine. A differential allowed the rear wheels to rotate at a different speed when cornering providing a stable ride. Tricycles were marketed to the old and timid as well as to women. Women's dress and the social norms of Victorian times prevented most women from taking to the Ordinary bicycle. Bicycles and tricycles were expensive. A good Ordinary bicycle was $125 and a tricycle $140 or more. Due to their expense and difficulty to store Adult trikes are a rare category of antique bicycles.
This woman's Quadrant model 14 was imported from England sold by S.T. Clark of Baltimore Md. The Quadrant was known for its unique front fork, a rack and pinion style of steering. This provided stability on the rough roads of the 1880's. Unique also to this lady's tricycle are the handlebars. One side is released to be able to rotate forward allowing the rider to mount in a way that was considered more graceful. This trike is pictured with Bown's "Safety" Lamp and an alarm or bell by Thomas Smith. The saddle is a Brooks International Women's model. The trike bears the decals of the distributor Clark of Baltimore and maker Quadrant of Birmingham.