It is believed that this dwarf safety bicycle is a Moorgate Dwarf Roadster No.5, made by Cooper, Kitchen & Co., of the Moorgate Works, Elland, Yorkshire, England between 1885 and 1886. The bicycle is known as a Kangaroo type. It features an early bicycle gear system comprising independent right and left chain wheels driven by their own chains from the front driving wheel. The idea was first put into commercial production by Hillman, Herbert & Cooper of Coventry in 1884 with their "Kangaroo" model and this name gave rise to the type, though the reason for the choice is unknown it is believed to have nothing to do with Australia.
This type of bicycle was at attempt to render the Ordinary or "penny farthing" bicycle design more manageable and safer, by fitting wheels of more nearly equal size and adding the geared-up front wheel chain drive. The chain technology, developed on earlier tricycles, and the facility to fit different sized sprockets made the Kangaroo-type enormously popular on both the path and road. For a brief couple of years the ground- breaking design was taken up by many manufacturers such as Cooper, Kitchen & Co., and it appeared it would oust the Ordinary bicycle with its record-breaking speeds and claims to be less dangerous than the "ordinary". However, development was moving quickly and the Kangaroo was very soon eclipsed by the rear chain safety bicycle devised by Rover in 1885. The Kangaroo type had disappeared from the cycling catalogues by 1888.
Information supplied by Paul & Charlie Farren
Beeley, Serena. "A History of Bicycles", Wellfleet Books, New Jersey, USA, 1992.
Assistant Curator, Science & Industry