Object StatementBicycle, penny farthing, 54 inch, Star British Challenge, metal / rubber / leather, made by Singer & Co, Coventry, England, c. 1885, used by Thomas Wearne, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1885-1890
Physical DescriptionBicycle, penny farthing, 54 inch, Star British Challenge, metal / rubber / leather, made by Singer & Co, Coventry, England, c. 1885, used by Thomas Wearne, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1885-1890
This type of bicycle was variously described as an ordinary, a high wheeler, and a penny farthing; the last of these names is best known today. This bicycle, number 19018 by Singer, has a tubular frame with a backbone of weldless steel, a rear step, slotted cranks, fluted front and rear forks, solid rubber tyres and radial spoked wheels. The leather seat is not sprung. The dropped handle bars have wooden grips. The paintwork is black and some of this original colour and white detail line work remain. There are traces of black paint with white detail on the rim but they are now largely rusted. At one time the handle bars, vertical section of the front forks, the entire pedal assembly and the spokes and axles of both wheels would have been nickel plated. The back wheel was originally red solid rubber. The pedals are thought to be of the era but are possibly not original Singer ones.
The bicycle is missing the brake lever, front brake mechanism and saddle cover.
MarksOn rear wheel hub: "Patent / 3531 / 1877"
On front wheel hub: 19018 / 54.
The cover plates on the rear wheels are marked: "VXXI" and "VXX".