The Mother of all Penny-Farthings

My home town, Slovenska Bistrica is hosting the 70th edition of what’s called Cvetni petek or “Flower Friday” today. Every year, on a friday a week before Easter the streets are filled with traders and craftsmen of different vocations, all offering their products in a lively atmosphere. You can find basket weavers and woodworkers, cooks and liquor sellers, housewives offering their home made creations and so on. Different clubs and groups in the area also join in, providing musical and cultural support and further enriching the experience.

Lots of wood and wickerwork items can be found at such markets. Photo from

If you’ve read my previous post, Trying my hand at pottery, you’ll know that I’ve recently taken up the hobby and started visiting the local art center to practice. The center can be found in the castle courtyard where a lot of today’s festivities went on. Surprisingly they chose not to offer their wares out on the stalls despite the near perfect spring weather, but instead opted to erect a signboard informing the public of our presence around the corner. A couple of people came in, looked around, some bought different pieces and chatted a bit before going on.

Then a brass band started playing in the courtyard and pulled me away from the wheel. I just love the deep sound of the drums and trumpets and it’s a real treat to see them play. Usually they would be dressed up in uniforms, but as this was more of an informal occasion, they went with everyday clothes. They played a song and moved on to other parts of the market and as I turned to go, I saw this thing;


How wonderfully daft! 🙂 It makes you wonder what they were thinking back in the day and what manner of injuries one would suffer three seconds after trying to ride it. If I have it right, they were popular at the end of the 19th century and were an obvious improvement over the wooden contraptions that came before. They were called “Hi-wheelers” back then, for apparent reasons. Later, as they were giving way to “safety bicycles” (or your modern bikes, the ones with two same-sized wheels) the name “Penny-farthing” began to stick especially in the UK. It’s a reference to the two coins, the larger one leading the much smaller one.



Dangerous and impractical it may be, but talk about a showpiece. Just take a look at that front light. The colour, the patina, the contrast between it and the frame – isn’t it gorgeous? Unfortunately I had only my phone to take pictures with and the owner was nowhere in sight, so I couldn’t get a story from him. I’ve heard talk of it being hand made from scratch, but I’ll have to check around if any of my friends know more about it.



Seen any cool, special bikes lately? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear it! 🙂



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