- This stickpin was used by the Mesinger Bicycle Saddle Company of New York to advertise their Mesinger saddles around 1896. At a time when rough roads and stiff bikes led to sore riders, saddles with extra cushioning, padding, and suspension sold well. The Mesinger saddle for 1896 was made with a woven rattan layer covered with leather padding, opened in the center to allow for the circulation of air for the comfort of the rider. This open design is seen in the pin. Mesinger was one of the better selling saddles of the era and the company navigated the end of the bicycle boom by transitioning from bicycle saddles to motorcycle saddles.
- 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)
- Object Name
- pin, lapel
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