1898 Ritter Road-Skates, Super Rare

Rare Victorian Era Ritter road-skates or foot bicycles. Every year throughout the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century, more amazing ‘novelties’ on wheels made their debut. Engineering companies throughout the Industrial world were cashing in on a remarkable consumer boom in new forms of personal transportation and professional and amateur inventors everywhere were cobbling together Primitive ‘vehicles’ of all sorts to satisfy public demand. More often a patent made the inventor more money than its production. Bicycles were the latest fashion in the mid-1890s. So you can almost imagine Mr. Ritter waking up one morning with his ‘eureka’ moment …a pair of roller skates with the skater standing on top of a pair of miniature bicycles! It’s a credit to the foresight of the inventor and the engineering company that produced these skates that a few still survive twelve decades later in fully working order. Each Ritter skate is stamped either ‘left’ or ‘right.’ It also shows the size. This matched pair is a size 9 1/2. Unusually, they have smaller diameter wheels – 5″. The normal wheel diameter is 6″, so I assume these to be ladies’ Ritter Road Skates. The wheelbase of these ladies skates is 8″, whereas the larger gents’ Ritter skates are 9″. The size of a Ritter skate – in this case marked 9 1/2 – reflects the length of the top of the skate, where the boot fits, in this case 9 1/2″. Every skate is hand-built so I assume that a customer could order a bespoke fitting. Each Ritter skate has a brake with an eyelet at the top. String is attached to the eyelet and the other end could be held in the skater’s hand; a handle could also be attached, to put into the skater’s pocket. This novel feature might have been for novice skaters... $5600

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