25 March 2012

What If Ripley Had Written A Book About Bicycling?

Perhaps you've never pondered the question posed in the title of this post.  Now's your chance.  Actually, I'll give you one possible answer I stumbled upon.

It seems there's a particular kind of whimsy that only the English can do.  And, as best as I can tell, the Brits are the only ones who've applied that sort of mirth to cycling.

And then there is the kind of humor that only the Curry Cycle Co. of Leicester could do.   

Curry placed a series of cartoons called "Strange But True" in British cycling magazines during the early part of the 20th Century. Those cartoons were compiled by a correspondent with the nom de plume of "Wheeler" and were drawn by well-known Leicester artist Frank Layton.  He also designed Curry's head badge.

One of my favorite of the series in No.2, which includes the high-wire cyclist and one of the best epitaphs ever written:

On this spot at half-past nine o'clock, after watching the glorious sunset of Aug 3rd 1904, Thomas Gilbert Smith, M.D., aged 56, fell dead from his bicycle.  Thunder and lightning immediately followed.

Henry Curry started building bicycles in 1884. His brothers joined in the business, and they continued building until 1932, when they began to sell Hercules cycles badged as Currys. They continued with the latter arrangement until some time during the 1960's, when Hercules, along with most British bicycle manufacturers, were absorbed by Raleigh.

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