In this 1892 catalog from the Libraries' trade literature collection, located in the National Museum of American History Library, Sylph Cycles, a product of the Rouse-Duryea Cycle Co., promotes their three bicycle models (Model A, B, or C).
Each model came with standard spring frames and a choice of either the Duryea 1 1-2 inch Crescent Cushion Tire or the Bidwell (Thomas) Pneumatic Tire. Since a spring frame meant increased cushioning while riding, the Sylph cycle aptly lives up to its name. The catalog claims the Sylph cycles to be unique and superior to any competitors due the numerous patents used in the Sylph design.
“Although we have done business under the present style but three years, the experience of the members of our company dates from the earliest days of cycling in America. Our Mr. C.E. Duryea is well known as one of the most prolific practical cycle inventors in America, and as the originator of number cycling features of great value.”
Interestingly enough, Mr. Charles E. Duryea went on to found America's first gasoline-powered commercial car company with his younger brother, Frank.
Numerous figures in the catalog illustrate the various features of the Sylph bicycle with detailed diagrams. The catalog cites “expert opinions” from some of the oldest cycling magazines then in existence such as The Cyclist, The Sporting Types, and The Bearings.
The company also printed additional testimonials from customers.
“Gentlemen—The Sylph is so far ahead of all the rest that they do not belong in the same classification.—A.B. McNeil”
Images from the catalog can be viewed on the Libraries flickr site.
—Mary Jinglewski (with thanks to Amy Poff for photography)