Collection of Peddler Bicycles – Almenno San Bartolomeo, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Collection of Peddler Bicycles

Tino Sana Carpenter Museum
Almenno San Bartolomeo, Italy

An eclectic collection of highly specialized bicycles once used by artisans for their specific needs. 

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Tino Sana Carpenter Museum (Museo del Falegname) is a personal collection of carpenters’ workshops and tools, musical instruments, puppets, sleighs, boats, motorbikes, bicycles, and much, much more. Each and every thematic section of the museum is special and unique in its own way, but the peddler bicycle section is definitely the shining star.

Peddler bicycles are bicycles that were equipped by an artisan for a specific work-related purpose. These bicycles were made from the end of the 1800s to the first half of the 1900s. These were times of deep societal change in Italy. Industrialization was taking hold, and traditional and modern ways of living intersected. An array of jobs that were once done in-house by farmers were now done by specialized artisans that needed to move around to bring their services to those who needed them.  The cheapest way to move around was by bicycle, and this modest means of transport had to accommodate each artisan’s specialized work tools.

This collection includes bicycles equipped with all paraphernalia a barber needed, such as scissors, combs, a mirror, lotions, and even the diploma attesting to the barber’s professional training. The knife sharpener’s bicycle came with a rotating grindstone connected to the pedals by means of a secondary chain and operated by pedaling. A large box with specialized hardware was fitted on the cobbler’s bicycle, including different moulds and a working stool. The broom-maker equipped the bicycle with a plane, a vice, ready-made brooms, and plenty of broomcorn.

There are bicycles for dairymen, chicken sellers, coffee-makers, coppersmiths, and farriers, but among the more curious peddler bicycles on display are those belonging to a cooper, a pork butcher, a roast-chestnut vendor, a stationary seller, a storyteller, and a cinematographer.  Not quite a peddler, but still on the theme of specialized bicycles is that of a fireman, equipped with a tow-hook to pull a barrel of water, a hose, and a siren.

These bicycles are from a time in which DIY was unknown to most as an acronym or a concept, yet, they attest to people’s ingenuity to use whatever was at hand to create a unique solution to their needs.

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