William Henry Bradley’s Victor Bicycles is one of the iconic posters of golden age of the American bicycle, and of art nouveau more generally. A visual poem, gracefully balancing form and color, commercial graphics arts expert Jack Rennert describes it as one of Bradley’s very best designs, and therefore “one of the best American-designed posters ever.” The absence of spokes, he writes, “gives a feeling of lightness and airiness to the bicycle, and the entire design. The gentleman to the left, we may assume, is also on a bicycle, but it is not clear if he’s eying her or her Victor.”
The Overman Wheel Company was one of the first to embrace the modern “safety bicycle,” with its identical wheel construction. This more practical design led to an explosion in bike sales, peaking at 1,200,000 per year, but a proliferation of cheap imitations caused the company to fold in 1899, a victim of its own success.