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Penny Farthing Bicycle

The Penny Farthing, also known as a High Wheel, High Wheeler and Ordinary, was the first machine to be called a “bicycle”.

It was popular in the 1870s and 1880s, with its large front wheel providing high speeds. It was a somewhat comfortable ride due to the large wheel acting as a shock absorber.

It became obsolete from the late 1880’s due to the modern bicycle with it chain drive and air tires.

The modern bicycle was certainly safer, a fall from a Penny Fathering bicycle could result in a traumatic injury.

The term Penny Fathering came from the British coins with the penny being very large and fathering being small. However this is more of a modern term, during their time they were known simply as  "Bicycles".


The following is taken from a slip of paper that came with the bike years ago.

We cannot prove or disprove the story. Perhaps you can? 

Also, you may note that the handle bars appear to be modern.

John L. Slocomb who perhaps built the first bicycle in Aroostook County, and perhaps Maine, at the age of 43, was the grandson of John Baher, famous in the Northeast Boundary Controversy which was the cause of the Aroostook War.

Slocomb had never seen a real bicycle, only pictures of them in a magazine called “Youths Companion”

He was a natural inventor and built the bike in his fathers black smith shop around 1870. The shop was located on the northside of the old covered bridge in Fort Fairfield, Maine

Later Mr. Slocomb invented what is world known as the Slocomb Micrometer. He had a manufacturing plant in Providence Rode Island.

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