The penny-farthing, also known as the ordinary bicycle, is arguably the quintessential icon of old-timeyness. Its somewhat ridiculous appearance of a gigantic wheel coupled with a midget one looks mighty antiquated compared to today’s bicycles, whose seats are not currently on yonder up high like a woman’s height. However, the mismatched wheels weren’t an attempt to look hilarious — larger wheels went faster and were better at maneuvering because the cranks were connected directly to the ginormous front wheel. When the chain drive was developed, the penny-farthing was doomed to old-timeyness and the mocking by young whippersnappers.
And why was it called a penny-farthing? It was a pejorative term due to the ordinary bicycle’s wheels resembling a penny and a farthing (quarter penny) next to each other. Oh, remember what you could buy for a penny? A steak and kidney pie, a cup of coffee, a slice of cheesecake and a newsreel!
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