an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Vintage Friday: Fairy Tricycle

Posted by Rosepixie on June 25, 2010

This is a tricycle newspaper ad from sometime in the late 1800s.

I’m sorry it’s so tiny.  The text reads:

Cripples, ladies and girls, if you want air or exercise, buy a Fairy Tricycle – foot or hand [unknown word].

Bicycles cheap for all.

What I found interesting about this ad was that it grouped cripples and women together.  Now, thinking about what women at the time were wearing, they were pretty restricted, but women did ride bicycles at the time.  Not only were “bloomers” invented to make it easier, but many women managed just fine in skirts.

Still, they weren’t really supposed to exert themselves, so this ad may have been partially suggesting that this tricycle was a way to get a bit of outside exercise with little actual exertion (after all, even a cripple could manage it just fine!).

Regardless, I think it’s still an interesting relic of an earlier time.  Think about the fact that this ad came out the same time women were making some of the biggest strides in our history – getting degrees at universities for the first time, demanding voting rights and rights of ownership and inheritance, opening schools and banks without men to guide or oversee them or even just pretend to.  It shows a pretty stark picture of the kind of thinking they were up against, doesn’t it?  Because this ad didn’t come out of a vacuum (like the ads today don’t) and it’s way of thinking had to have been at least expected as the norm for it’s audience.  How much more interesting is it, then, that the advances been made and fought for at that time were happening?

And how interesting it is to compare it to the views we see in today’s ads.


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