Artifact of the Week - Penny-Farthing Bicycle


This is our Penny-farthing bicycle, also known as “high wheel” and “high wheeler”. The term penny-farthing comes from the British coins, the penny and the farthing, one much larger than the other. They were the first thing called “bicycle” and were popular around 1870, having been invented by Frenchman Eugène Meyer in 1869.

As you can probably imagine falling from these cycles could be quite dangerous, especially as falling off commonly involved going head first over the big front wheel. In the 1880s the Penny-farthing fell out of fashion with the creation of more modern style bicycles, which provided the same level of comfort and speed (with the invention of chain driven gear trains and pneumatic tires) with less danger.

This particular model was purchased by L. C. Brown of Nickerson Kansas (sadly we do not know when he purchased it) and then given to the museum by his daughter, Mrs. T. Hobart McVay in 1986.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!



  • Tues. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Closed Sun. & Mon.
  • Phone: 620-662-1184


    (Oodleplex $1 per child)
  • Donations Welcome


  • 100 S. Walnut Street
  • Avenue A & Walnut
  • Hutchinson, Kansas