Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

Sports Art, Bicycling, Les Vélocipèdes, Antique Print, 1860s


Les Vélocipèdes
F. Sala & Co., Berlin: c. 1860s-1870s
Hand colored lithograph
21.25 x 16 inches, image
26.25 x 19.75 inches, overall

Humorous genre lithograph of a well-dressed man and his female companion speeding down a dirt track through a park, each on a two-wheeled velocipede. Two small dogs run alongside them, and in the distance are three male cyclists and a group of four people watching. The woman’s rebellious nature is suggested by her immodesty by 19th century standards — knees apart and skirt billowing to reveal her calves, hair flying, cigarette held between her teeth — and the man’s expression as he glances at her with a suggestive smile. Indeed, cigarette smoking was socially unacceptable for 19th century women and was only indulged by bohemians, rebels and outsiders to society. The print is titled in the lower margin in a large, decorative font; beneath the title are the words “All Right” in small block letters.

Product Description Continues Below.


Velocipedes are early bicycles with a slightly larger front wheel than back wheel, first developed in Paris in 1863. A New York Times article from 1869 documents the craze for riding two-wheeled velocipedes, as the cycles were known. Titled “The Velocipede Furor,” the article explains that the Central Park Commissioners had not yet decided whether to allow them into the park, while those of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park had “already taken measures to gratify the army of velocipedists who are preparing to invade the Metropolis and its suburbs this Spring.” The article also reports that American carriage-makers, seeing a business opportunity, were rushing to produce the cycles.

F. Sala was a German publisher of lithographs based in Berlin in the mid through late 19th century. They produced portraits, religious and genre subjects, and scenes from literary works.

Full publication information: Berlin. F. Sala & Co. Unter d. Linden 51.

Condition: A large, apparently rare print. Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned, deacidified, flattened; now only with light remnants of toning, wear, handling, soft creases. Few short marginal tears and chips restored, unobtrusive, as backed on Japanese tissue for support, and mostly can be rematted out.


Amos, Amanda and Margaretha Haglund. “From social taboo to ‘torch of freedom’: the marketing of cigarettes to women.” Tobacco Control. 2000. Vol. 9, pp. 3-8. Online at: (3 July 2012).

Nunes, A.C. and R. Vincent. “Bicycle — Historical Outline.” 11 April 2002. URI Physics Department. (3 July 2012).

“The Velocipede Furor.” 15 February 1869. The New York Times. Online at (3 July 2012).

Additional information


19th Century