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Presented by Player’s Cigarettes

A wonderful bicycle collectible that’s not too hard to find or too expensive is a set of Player’s cigarette cards. To promote their cigarettes, Player’s put these informative and illustrated cards inside and encouraged buyers to collect the whole series by offering a book (for one penny) to paste the cards into, with a wraparound cover.

While their cards covered many subjects, I’ve only been able to find and purchase the bike history collection shown below. This set was first published in 1939, with the assistance of the editor of the British Cycling magazine, to commemorate the centenary of Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s bicycle (second card below). If you stay at the top of this page, you’ll be able to see the metamorphosis of the bicycle from 1816 to 1933. Or scroll down to see the individual bikes and read about them.

Thanks to amateur bicycle historian and San Antonio wheelman William Hudson, here is a much more detailed history of bicycle innovations. If you’re into bike history, you'll love my friend and bicycle historian David Herlihy's books, like his Bicycle: The History and The Lost Cyclist, the story of Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh who vanished while riding around the world in the 1880s.

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