Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Historical question

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Historical question

    A book, The Fasting Cure, published in 1911 by American muckracker Upton Sinclair, mentions a man who “runs five miles in 26 minutes and 15 seconds, and rode a wheel 500 miles in seven days.”

    Was unicycling so accepted in 1911 that you could just say “rode a wheel,” and everyone would understand, or does it mean a penny farthing bike, or am I completely missing the point and it means something else that I haven't even thought of?

  • #2
    Casual Googling says it means bicycling, e.g.

    Cycling Trade Review, 1890 - "He first rode a wheel in 1882"

    Introduction of Bicycles to Korea - "He [Lansdale] is said to have been the first man that rode a wheel on Korean soil [in 1884]. The natives came running from all sides when they saw him pedaling through the streets of Chemulpo on his high machine." (1899 newspaper obituary)

    Comment


    • #3
      Agreed. Ngram. The usage might have started when the most familiar bicycles had one huge obvious wheel along with a much smaller one, but it looks like it continued to be applied to chain-driven "safety" bicycles.

      Used as an example of figurative language in an 1897 book:
      Quite as common is Synecdoche, or the using the name of a part for a whole, as when we say "wheel" for "bicycle" or "trolley" for "electric railroad."

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, didn't know about Ngram. Its possibilities as a research tool are endless! Thanks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Glad it helped, Song. Yeah, Ngram is cool. Those books, journals, etc, are useful in a lot of ways, especially the older public domain stuff. I'd guess that the scanning and OCR work is pretty well automated and I wonder sometimes whether I'm the first person in at least a century to read something.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by song View Post
            A book, The Fasting Cure, published in 1911 by American muckracker Upton Sinclair, mentions a man who “runs five miles in 26 minutes and 15 seconds, and rode a wheel 500 miles in seven days.”

            Was unicycling so accepted in 1911 that you could just say “rode a wheel,” and everyone would understand, or does it mean a penny farthing bike, or am I completely missing the point and it means something else that I haven't even thought of?
            It would mean penny farthing or "high wheeler" also known later as an "ordinary bike" - in order to differentiate it from the "safety bike" which was an early version of the modern design with 2 equal wheels and chain drive.

            There was also an American variant which had a large directly driven rear wheel and a small steerable front wheel.

            I have ridden a genuine Victorian penny farthing. The small wheel hovers slightly at speed and to all intents and purposes it is a unicycle with a single stabiliser.
            My first novel, Bridge of Otherwhere, Michael Wilkinson, on Kindle. A tale of subtle magic, mystery, friendship and love. Tinyurl.com/Bridge-of-Otherwhere For US$ page: TinyURL.com/OtherwhereBridge

            Comment

            Working...
            X