26 January 2009

Proceedings in camera

If you want to take video while riding there are three options: helmet camera; bike-mounted bracket; or you steer with one hand and film with the other.

The first two can be bought or made. But the third is easier and more artistically satisfying, as you can pan and tilt, plus you get interesting action shots of the sky when you fall off.

All new technology, you might think, this snapping-from-the-saddle business. Not so. I was intrigued to find this advert on the British Library website's Online Gallery today. It is, the ad says, 'AN IDEAL MACHINE For those Gentlemen who wish to combine Photography with Cycling'. (You can read a description or see a high-res zoomable image.)

Dating from 1888, it's a special tricycle from the Crypto Cycle Company that comes with a built-in rig for taking photographs while out riding. (Presumably not actually while in motion?)

A curious feature of the trike is that it's compressible to 26 inches width - perhaps they suffered from narrow cycle lanes then, too. As if out of Wacky Races, the bottom line of the ad excitingly informs you that the bike is 'supplied with or without Crypto Power'.

The price, without camera, is 22 guineas. For young readers, that's just over £23 - equivalent then to several month's wages for an artisan. (Bikes of the late Victorian and Edwardian era probably felt about as expensive as cars to do for us today. There were thriving second-hand markets.)

Me, I'm working on the bike-mounted-bracket solution...

1 comment:

  1. The cryptic "Crypto Power" almost certainly refers to the Shaw and Sydenham two-speed epicyclic gear, patented in 1882. It was used in the front-wheel driven Crypto Bantam to avoid the nasty safety consequences of having to have a large diameter front wheel that direct-drive ordinaries require to get a reasonably high gear.

    Bob Damper.