Milan, 1819

The velocimano
Museo del Sidecar, Cingoli (Macerata)
Materials: wood (poplar, acacia, elm, ash), gesso di Bologna (plaster), canvas, forged iron, cast bronze, cured leather, vegetable hair, natural glues, boiled linseed oil, colored pigments, beeswax

A new means of personal transport called “velocimano” appeared in Italy in 1819 in Italy. Its name is due to the alternating movement of the arms, instead of the feet, that propelled the vehicle. It was a tricycle that, in the standard version, looked like a winged horse. Its inventor, Gaetano Brianza, organized a presentation in the Santa Radegonda theater in Milan in May 1819 and gave out to the public a poem entitled El gran cavall meccanegh (The great mechanical horse). The specimen on display, in the shape of a winged dragon, is one of the original models built by Brianza. The wings are actually two manual levers that generate the movement; when they are pushed in the opposite direction, the tricycle travels backwards. The steering is operated by feet. Stopping the wings is sufficient to brake the vehicle.