- The Gendron Wheel Company of Toledo, Ohio produced this souvenir metal pin around 1896. Originally founded as the Gendron Iron Wheel Company in 1872, Gendron began manufacturing bicycles during the early 1890s, changing its name to the Gendron Wheel Company in 1896. In addition, it manufactured a variety of spoked wheels for carriages, wagons, and wheelchairs. The metal pin is topped by a circle inside a star that is engraved “Gendron Bicycle” in the center.
- 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.”
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
- Physical Description
- metal (overall material)
- celluloid (overall material)
- overall: 3/4 in; 1.905 cm
- Object Name
- pin, lapel
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