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Antique Horse Tricycles

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive are concerning antique toy horse tricycles and velocipedes.  What is it?  Who made it?  How old is it?  What's it worth?  Most of the time those asking the questions are less than happy with our answers.  That's because the overwhelming majority of "antique" horse trikes are actually quite new.  Many readers bought their tricycles at estate sales or antique shows, thinking they were getting an authentic old piece, when in actuality they were purchasing a really new fake, made in Asia or the Philippines as
decorative items and resold by unscrupulous dealers as antique.  This page is meant to help you determine if your "antique" horse tricycle is a find, or a jackpot for a seller....hopefully before you spend your money in the first place.

First of all, if you see a horse shaped tricycle for sale, anywhere, for any price, and it looks like it's antique, chances are that it is not.  In fact the chance of it being a real antique is probably about 1 in 1000 or less.  Fake, reproduction, replica, etc. doesn't necessarily mean that something is not worthy of purchase.  Many horse tricycles produced recently are fine decorative objects and well worth up to about a hundred dollars for full size models - much more than that and you're simply getting ripped off.

The tricycle at the left is currently for sale on eBay for $400!  It is an obvious fake, yet the seller is claiming it to be an antique.  The seller may or may not be aware of the actual age of a tricycle.  When dealing with sellers on eBay, chances are that the seller has no real idea of a toy's age, let alone value.  Asking some questions can help, but you're likely to get answers that are skewed toward the tricycle being antique, either because the seller is trying to defraud you, or genuinely thinks that the toy is antique.

Good rule of thumb....If it's on eBay, it isn't real!

Below are some example of fake horse tricycles and what to look out for when you're thinking of purchasing one.

Fun Fitness Ride


Some common characteristics of reproduction horse tricycles:

  • Non-existent surface wear.

  • Even surface wear over entire surface. 

  • Wooden hubs.

  • Steel over wood rimmed wheels.

  • All-wood wheels.

  • Uneven rust patterns, including bright orange rust caused by chemically induced oxidation.

  • Semi-transparent over-paint with undercoat showing through (used as a cheap means of making something look old - old painted wood items weren't painted that way, nor do they wear that way).

  • Poor casting of cast iron parts.

  • Poor carving, or carving without much detail.

  • Flat looking metal for forks, pedals & cranks.


The horse tricycle at the left was featured in an antique auction, but billed as being an expertly crafted reproduction circa 1960s.  It had a pre-sale estimate of $200-300 and realized $200.  If this were a real authentic late Victorian horse velocipede, the selling price would have possibly been ten times that price.

Notice the flat steel forks and boxy flat steel pedals.  An original would not have forks or pedals like this.  Also the steel tread over wooden rims is an instant giveaway that this is a fake.  Most authentic antique horse tricycles would not have wooden rims.

From the picture this size, you should also be able to tell that the paint is relatively new and that the "wear" is simply a product of the horse being painted with various tones of brown.


Melissa & Doug-Leading Designer of Education Toys

Melissa & Doug-Leading Designer of Education Toys  

Here is a close-up view of the same horse as pictured above.  Notice the lack of detail in the carving, real antiques would have intricate finely carved details.

Also note the dark paint around the nose looks like it was just slapped on.  It gives a look of wear, but really, who would have produced something with that poor of a paint job a hundred years ago.

The eye also looks to have been set in with some type of adhesive that looks to have been partially painted over, original antiques would have superb and set in the wood very precisely.


Look at the cast iron portion of the frame and how rough the edges are in the pierced sections.  The ornamentation is also not very detailed.  Original antique horse trikes would have had very nice castings with crisp detailed decoration.

Notice too that there is absolutely no wear to the black paint, despite the rest of the horse looking like it is quite weathered.  This includes the lack of any type of surface rust, which is a near impossibility on something over a hundred years old. 

The metal stirrup looks flawless, like it was produced yesterday, with virtually no wear to the paint whatsoever.



On the underside of this same horse, there is the same type of "wear" to the paint as on the top.  On an original antique horse tricycle, the underside will have the best paint, just because it was never touched or banged up against anything.

Notice how the metal tires are completely square...nobody made square treads, they are always a bit rounded (for the same reason most bicycle and tricycle tires are rounded, so you can turn the thing.  It's hard to see in this picture, but the wheels are also a bit bent, they shouldn't be on a tricycle of this quality.


In this close-up of the horse's butt you can see numerous little dings and horizontal marks, made in the factory by smacking the horse with something.  You can see some of these marks in between the horse's legs, someplace that damage like this would not likely occur naturally.

The natural horse hair is a nice touch, but don't let that throw you off and make you think the tricycle is really antique. RC Helicopter Clearance Sale


This face tricycle was repainted by an eBay seller, who thought the paint job was worth $165.00

This tricycle with 5 inch wheels(!) was listed by an eBay seller as folk art from an estate that had it for 100 years.

An eBay seller managed to sell this fake horse tricycle for $120!  It is a miniature version with listing stating it to be over a 100 years old.

This tricycle was correctly described on eBay as being a replica, and seller did not even get an opening bid of $50.

For $140 this "1940's replica" of an antique tricycle could be yours from an eBay seller.  (Tricycle was not made in the 1940's)

This tricycle is on eBay for a hundred bucks plus shipping, advertised as being "vintage" - ie. vintage 2001.

This tricycle is on eBay fro only $400 plus shipping, and the seller is guaranteeing the tricycle to be old and original.

An antique dealer listed this in show literature as being an antique hand powered trike converted into a velocipede, it's fake.

This obvious fake is being sold for $995 and billed as being a rare carved wood horse tricycle from Puerto Rico.

This tricycle retails for $10.50 and is a miniature trike for decoration, but some sellers on eBay ask a small fortune.

Another obvious reproduction that is supposed to retail for around $50.

Someone paid $100 for this tricycle 10 years ago, another obvious fake.

Another obvious reproduction.


Not only is this fake, but it's just plain ugly.


This "vintage" horse tricycle was advertised by an auctioneer in an auction full of antiques.

This fake sold on eBay for nearly a hundred dollars plus shipping.

When determining whether a horse is old or a fake, make sure that it is large enough to actually be ridden by a child and that the wheelbase is sufficient for actual use.


Another fake horse tricycle.

Old paint, faked...badly.


















So what about real, authentic, antique and vintage toy horse tricycles and velocipedes?  Are they out there?  Sure they are, but they are incredibly rare, and if you find one at an auction you'll likely pay much more than the $50-100 that many of the reproductions go for.  For some examples of real authentic antique and vintage horse tricycles, visit our real antique horse tricycles page.
Tricycle Fetish is the only online source for antique tricycle and vintage tricycle information. We have spent numerous hours collecting information on tricycle manufacturers to provide you with a history on your old tricycle. We have included hundreds of antique tricycle photographs from the early 1800's, vintage tricycles from the 1940's to contemporary tricycles of today. We've answered thousands of questions over the years and will continue to help you in your research well into the future. We adore these tricycles just as any child would and collect them ourselves. If you find any helpful information on your tricycle here, please let us know. We love to hear from other tricycle enthusiasts. Send us photos your tricycle restorations or a photo of the trike that is special to you and we'll include it here on the site. We'd also like to include a link to your site if you provide tricycle parts, supplies, repair kits, restoration or any other type of tricycle related service.
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