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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Look, Ma: 1921

Look, Ma: 1921

January 29, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Herbert Bell and Joe Garso," a duo of one-legged trick cyclists who were probably war veterans. Which one this is, I'm not sure. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

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The sight of someone's fingers intertwined within the spokes of a bike must be the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard because this photo, viewed large especially, made me actually flinch!

P.S. And I'm guessing your hunch about these two being war veterans is a sound's hoping they made buckets of money and had tons of fun with their bike tricks.


Yes, most modern, and ancient, bicycles have a front sprocket that is several times the size of the rear sprocket. However, this bicycle is a very specialized one, designed for doing trick riding. Having this small front sprocket allows one great control at low speed (the only speed required for trick riding). Modern "trials" and other trick bikes have the same kind of gearing.

About the saddle, which looks rather more like a baguette, I have no idea.


That's one heckuva track stand!

Twin sprockets

I wonder how pedaling energy and speed is affected. Most modern bikes now have a drive sprocket that is several times as big as the driven one. Seems like it would be a bear to get moving up to speed. With one leg no less.


I can't imagine the trick he is trying to perform here, the handlebars are straight, the tire is at a 90 degree angle and he is pulling something from his back pocket. And the calm look on his face shows he knows exactly how this is going to end.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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