Frocks and Farthings

BIKE CROP HORIZIt’s Feminine Frocks & Penney Farthings

On October 24th Volunteers from the FRIENDS offered a free program at the Headquarters building of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.  Two members of the FRIENDS Board of Trustees, Beverly Wassam and Mark Mittag, put together this light hearted and high spirited romp into the past.

Mark, a 35 year member of The Wheelmen (a national organization dedicated to preserving these bikes and their history), introduced people to his “Penny Farthing” which he explains is a bicycle ~ a high wheeled bicycle.   Prior to the turn of the last century, they were popular with well to do people, who often times formed clubs and  sponsored Penny Farthing races.

He answered questions like: “how did one get on such a bike?”, “What’s the maximum wheel size?”, “What were the tires made of?”,  “How much did they cost?” and “Were they dangerous to ride?”  and lots more!   The audience could slso examine these vintage bikes.

“Feminine Frocks” was the part of the program presented by Bev Wassam, who is a historic costumer and seamstress, including 15 years as costume designer for Old World Wisconsin, and runs her seamstress business, “Another Time,” in Delavan, WI.

While the propriety of women engaging in sports was often questionable, history notes women  enjoyed croquet, swimming,  horseback riding (side saddle, of course) mountain climbing, and car riding.  Wassam showed off fashions for women’s sporting events.

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