A perilous ride

by Vintage Editions

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Artist Statement

A perilous ride was photographed in 1884, right at the start of an uptick in bike interest. Production advancements, new technology, and the significance of cycling as symbolic of liberation and independence are among factors that contributed to a bicycle boom in the late 1880s and 90s. Millions of Americans hopped on the two-wheeled bandwagon. Cycling clubs opened, bike gear became big business, new rules of social conduct on the street evolved, female fashion was overhauled, and more, all in response to the bike craze.

Why We Love It

Plucked from the Library of Congress’s archives and painstakingly remastered by our talented retoucher, A perilous ride pictures 18-year-old Will Robertson steering a bike down the steps of the US Capitol while a man named Rex Smith stands at the top. Robertson rides an American Star—a sort of reverse penny-farthing with the small wheel in the front instead of the back, invented by G.W. Pressey only a few years before this photo was taken. The design made the bike a bit safer, preventing the forward-tipping other high wheelers ran into. It was also used in bicycle polo, a game both Roberston and Smith played competitively. In fact, we may be witnessing a pedal-driven duel: Riding down the capitol steps was a popular challenge at the time. It took photographer Harry Platt’s technical prowess to properly capture a challenger without the image blurring. Platt, a popular photographer and photographic innovator, secured a patent for an improved camera shutter in 1892. A perilous ride is credited to Harry Platt and his brothers Jacob and Robert, but it was likely Harry’s improved shutter (ie. faster shutter speed) that produced a clearer photo than previous attempts ... Read more on the blog! 

Details

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta

Edition Structure:
10"x8" | edition of 10
14"x11" | edition of 150
20"x16" | edition of 50

Vintage Editions

For our Vintage Editions series, our curators scour historical archives for both timeless classics and heretofore unseen gems. These images come back to life as exhibition-quality prints now available to everyone. As a bonus, purchasing equals patronage: sales from Vintage Edition prints go towards supporting our growing roster of artists.
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