January 25, 2012 - century-old bicycle photos

Filed under Book Research

My new bicycle book begins with a bit of bicycle history, and I’m having a great time looking for photos to use as illustrations. Some of my favourite old photos come from the collection of Lorne Shields of Toronto, who has spent hours sharing images with me over Skype. Scroll to the bottom of this link to see some of his amazing collection.

One thing I noticed when exploring his collection was that old photos of bicycles were often taken in photography studios. I asked Mr. Shields why people always brought their bikes in for a formal portrait.

“They didn’t,” he said. “Most people couldn’t afford bicycles, but photography studios often had one on hand.” Back in those days, they were so expensive that they became status symbols, and people got their pictures taken next to one in hopes of impressing relatives when they sent the photo with their annual Christmas letter!