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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Shop > Books Listed by Topic > The Indiana Historian > "a marvel of ingenuity" > "a marvel of ingenuity" "a marvel of ingenuity"

The title of this issue is part of a quotation from Charles E. Pratt, The American Bicycler:

From 1868 until the present time [1879] the patented improvements have been numerous, and the mechanical details of construction have been thoroughly worked out, until the machine has become a marvel of ingenuity and of workmanship; and the modern bicycle has been there developed to its present state of perfection in strength, lightness, ease of propulsion, certainty of control, and gracefulness of design and operation (19).

Pratt goes on to quote an 1869 source on velocipedes:

. . . "The machines now in use are so radically different from those of fifty years ago, so perfect in propelling power, so easy to ride, so swift of motion, so useful as a means of conveyance, that it seems impossible for history to repeat itself with regard to the present mania" (20).

Pratt comments: "we can pity the man with the poor thing" that he was describing.

The quotations help to illustrate the role of perspective in history. Pratt in 1879 was describing the high-wheeler-or ordinary-as the modern bicycle. Keep in mind the technology of bicycles of today as you learn more about the development of the bicycle and attitudes toward it.