Spalding Bicycle Pin
- This metal stickpin is topped with a white celluloid button that reads “The Spalding Bicycle” in red script. Albert Goodwill Spalding began his sporting career as a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association in 1871, and ended his career with the Chicago White Stockings in the newly formed National League. In 1876, Spalding founded A. G. Spalding & Brothers a sporting goods company. In the late 1870s, Albert Spalding wore a glove on his non-throwing hand to help sell the new baseball mitts his company sold. The Spalding Company also supplied the National League with baseballs, expanding its popularity. Combining his baseball skill with business acumen made Spalding a leader in sporting goods retail. For his work in baseball, Spalding was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, and his company continued to manufacture sporting goods.
- During the late 1880s and early 1890s, Spalding produced several different bicycle models and sponsored a racing team to help advertise its cycles. In 1899 Spalding headed the incorporation of the American Bicycle Company, a trust formed in an effort to reduce overhead and improve flagging bicycle sales.
- Bicycling boomed in popularity in the United States during the 1890s when the invention of the “safety” bicycle replaced the dangerous high-wheeler. The National Cycle Board of Trade held the largest annual exhibitions in New York and Chicago between 1893 and 1897. At these cycle shows manufacturers attempted to capitalize on the bicycle boom with exhibitions of their products to both the public and bicycle agents from other cities. At shows like these, manufacturers advertised their wares with pins and buttons made of tin and celluloid—cheap materials easily mass manufactured into trinkets and souvenirs. The Chicago Tribune’s account of the 1896 Chicago show speaks to the ubiquity of these kind of souvenirs. “Every visitor seems to have a desire to cherish its memory through some kind of a souvenir . . . anyone who does not look like a walking sign board is a rarity and every exhibiter goes after him and every available buttonhole has some kind of button in it, and stick pins are thrust at him from all sides.”
- Currently not on view
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
- Physical Description
- metal (overall material)
- celluloid (overall material)
- Object Name
- pin, lapel