A Barber Shop On Wheels in the 1890s

No odder use has been found for the bicycle than that to which it has been put by a barber, August Leibman, of Gravesend, [Long Island, New York]. Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, December 20, 1896

Was this the oddest use of a bicycle? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s the link to my previous post on the velo douche, lawn mower bicycle and the bicycle sailboat. You can decide which is the oddest use. Here’s the story of Leibman and his barber shop on wheels …

Initially, Leibman rode his horse and buggy, from village to village in Long Island, shaving the faces of the many, many farmers “who could not be spared the time to travel to the neighboring town to be shaved.”

And then, it occurred to Leibman that “a more desirable way” to travel about was by bicycle, something a lot of enterprising people learned during the great Biocycle Boom of the 1890s. Leibman’s “barber’s chair” was mounted upon a tricyle, and was cheaper to maintain than a horse and buggy. According to the story, which appeared in newspapers across the country: “Now he boldly rides into the territory of his rivals, for the novelty of being shaved in a tricycle barber’s chair has attracted [customers] from the regular shops.”

Interested in more fun and fascinating cycling history? There’s plenty more in my eBook: The Boy With No Legs Who Rode Like the Wind. Here’s the link to my story about it and here’s the etsy link to get the book.


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