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
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 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.
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
Some common characteristics of reproduction
Non-existent surface wear.
Even surface wear over entire surface.
Steel over wood rimmed 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
Flat looking metal for forks, pedals &
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.