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METAL to the PEDAL — Vintage Pedal Cars

June 2020 – December 2021

50 Years of American Pedal Cars

Children’s toys hold a place among the most ancient artifacts. They typically mirror the adult world children aspire to and often teach children how to look forward to life as a grown-up.

The pedal car holds a unique position in the history of toys. A product of the Industrial Age, it took the idea of the “hobby horse” which itself saw a transition to pedal power in the late 19th century, to the next level. The earliest recorded pedal powered vehicle was the “Quadracycle” exhibited in 1853 at the “Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations World’s Fair” held in New York City at the time when two-wheeled bicycles became popular. Pedal cars mirror automotive design of the Machine Age and reflect advancements in mass production as applied to toy manufacturing. As artifacts, they have become nearly as popular with collectors as the actual automobiles themselves.

This exhibit featured pedal cars from the Robert Guenthner Collection in the Slawson Gallery.

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Exhibit Gallery Guide