Ace! Thanks for sharing your research. One of these thumbnail formats would be really cool. Also, if you could sort by diagram/schematics vs text that would be swell. At the moment I’m more interested in the pics.
Thanks again for sharing your work…download took a little over a minute…cable good…dial up aol-bad…I’ll never go back, you can’t make me!
What is the date of the earlies patent you collected?
A fellow by the name of Charles Meinert (email@example.com) wrote an article in the Wheelmen, Nov 95 titled “One Wheeled Wonders” based on a collection of U.S. patents on monocycles/one wheel velocipedes/unicycles from 1869 - 1912. Nick Clayton followed up with an article called “European One Wheeled Wonders” based on patents from Europe (mostly England).
Coincidentally, I just got these articles in the mail yesterday. In the U.S, at least, the majority of the early patents were for monocycles with a center position, i.e. the rider sitting inside the wheel. Seems that the early thinking was that these would be the most rideable. On even came with an attachment for fitting an umbrella.
2nd march 1869 pat#87355 appears to be the earliest reference to one wheeled fun in the USPTO.
It does seem that monocycles were more patented, but I wouldn’t say that this proves that they were more popular. To patent something [afaik] requires it to be unique in some way - hence you won’t find a “normal” unicycle in this collection. There are lots of almost normal ones tho’ The closest one to a simple unicycle is the original patent for what appears to be an early Schwinn design [1963 pat#3083036] but once again this is “novel” in it’s approach.
My interest is in the “one wheeled approach”, I think it’s encourages a certain whimsy while challenging the designer to devise a really innovative solution - I think it’s great that I can ride a simple unicycle down the street while someone else may be designing a “unicycle for operation in water” [pat#5509831]…
What is lacking here is the “chance invention” of breaking one’s “pennyfathing” so as to “invent” the unicycle [more like an ultimate wheel with handle-bars really] this was not patented [afaik]…
The latest in the collection is for “It” or “Ginger” or “Segway” or whatever you like to call it [March 2002 pat#6367817] and although it is more of a Dicycle [the one that’s in production anyway] it’s very intersting to note the illustration on page 14: