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If you are not that
familiar with antique tricycles, it may be hard to tell the
different between a real genuine antique and a reproduction, replica
and out-and-out fakes. It's not too difficult to tell if you
see the tricycle in person, but only seeing a picture on the
internet (read: on eBay) may make it hard to determine the
authenticity of the tricycle. We're bombarded almost on a
daily basis with pictures and request for values on tricycles that
are obvious knock-offs and eBay is littered with them like a Chinese
decorative tricycle factory exploded. This page should help
clear things up....hopefully.
Replica - a tricycle that is
built virtually identical to an earlier model. High quality
using the same exact design. An example are
line of Colson replicas.
Reproduction - a tricycle made
to resemble something old, but with no intention of deceiving anyone
as to its true age.
Fakes - We consider anything
that is made to look old that could be passed off as old to
unwitting buyers as fake. There are a lot of these on eBay.
Fantasy Pieces - some people
enjoy taking old tricycles and creating fantasy pieces with their
parts. These trikes were never factory produced. Some
are very cool and have value themselves. Some examples include
choppers and low-rider trikes.
Who Sells Fakes:
There is an enormous amount of fake
items on eBay on any given day, tricycles included. Some are
meant to deceive, while others are clearly stated as decorative
pieces or reproductions. Before buying any antique looking
tricycle, you should look at the pictures carefully to determine if,
in fact, it is genuinely old.
Many of the
fakes that are showing up on eBay are made in China. They can
be found for sale at wholesale through many dropship providers'
websites, usually for a fraction of the cost on eBay (as in a few
dollars each). These fakes have been around for a number of
years at this point, and they are starting to show up in estate
sales and public estate auctions, where many people are buying them
to resell on eBay. It doesn't help that some auctioneers can't
tell the difference and are passing them off as antiques.
fakes were meant to be fakes. Many were made to be sold as
merely decorative items. A lot of them are much much smaller
than any tricycle would be, but it can be hard to tell size from a
little picture on eBay, especially if the seller does not disclose
the actual measurements.
What to Look for to Spot a Fake:
There are a number of things that can
better help a buyer determine if a tricycle is a fake or actually a
Wooden seats - most antique
tricycles did not have wooden seats, although a few did.
If a tricycle is from before 1900 and has a wooden seat, it
should show lots of wear and age.
Philips head screws - No
Philips head screws in the 1800's.
Welds - before electricity,
there was no welding. If you see someone selling a
tricycle with welds with claims it was made before 1890, they
are lying. Welds on any tricycle prior to 1900 are very
rare, if not non-existent.
Hex nuts & bots - genuine
antiques do not have six sided bolts holding anything together.
The earliest tricycles with bolts and nuts will have four sided
Steel covered wood wheels -
although I have seen example of authentic tricycles with wooden
wheels with strap steel over the wood (like metal tires), it is
very rare. Few were produced like this, and even fewer
survive. Most likely wood and steel together on the wheels
means it is a fake - especially if any of the other things
listed in this section occur on the tricycle as well.
Chemical rust - anything
made with iron will rust. Many fakes are now being
chemically treated to oxidize quickly and it is easy to spot.
A rusty antique tricycle will have a brown even rust to any part
of the metal that has been exposed (ie. paint is missing).
Chemical oxidation causes an orange-ish rust that is spotty and
seemingly not related to normal wear or exposed metal.
Pots, baskets, planters etc. -
No authentic antique tricycle will ever have any sort of basket
on the back, period.
What About a Fake for Purely
If you want to buy a reproduction or
blatant fake, miniature or regular size for decorative purposes, we
have no problem with that, and are in no way trying to discourage
the sale of tricycle shaped planters and the like. A fake 9"
tricycle might look just right on your mantel or might be the
perfect perch for you favorite doll or bear.
We personally would
not recommend buying a reproduction or fake however. You can
find many old and antique tricycles with as much (usually more)
charm than any mass produced Asian knick knack, and you won't pay
that much more for many of them. If you purchase a $100
antique tricycle, it's likely that when you are through using it, it
will be still worth $100 or more. But if you pay $40 for a
Chinese knock-off, after several years it is likely to be worth
about a dollar at your yard sale. There are roughly a couple
dozen (or more) fake tricycles on eBay on any given day, and
thousands more on other websites across the internet. They are
not rare and will never have any value in your lifetime, or your
children's children's lifetime.
A Last Bit of Advice:
If you find an "old" or "antique"
tricycle (especially on eBay) that you are thinking about buying,
check out other listings on eBay to see if you can find the same
exact tricycle for much less. An eBay search for "tricycle"
will only bring up around 600 results normally. It's easy to
scroll down through quickly to look for similar tricycles. And
I suggest steering clear of ANYONE who is trying to pass repros or
fakes off as genuine. If their listing says that they "aren't
sure of the age" or if they allude to "not knowing" or "not sure" of
anything, find another seller who does know and who is honest about
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Below are some examples of tricycles
that have been passed off as antique for sale on the internet.
None of them are in any way old, and definitely not antique!
tricycle sold for almost $70 with shipping on eBay. It was
advertised as a "Salesman's Sample." Seller gave measurements,
and at a foot high, it would have to be a salesman's sample or for
use by a newborn.
poor soul paid a whopping $61 for this trike on eBay. This
decorative tricycle can be bought from dropshippers and importers
for around 5 bucks. Advertised as "antique" and as a
"boneshaker." Seller said that it had been acquired at an
estate sale where it had previously sat in a garage for "a many
being small enough for a premature infant to ride (total of 10"
high) and being pictured on a sofa table, this fake horse tricycle
sold for over $70 on eBay. There were even some scuffs to the
finish added in the manufacturing process to make it look old.
Remember, people were smaller in Victorian times, its a fact, but
not that small. No authentic antique tricycle is going to be a
total of 10 inches tall or have wheels that are 3 inches in diameter
- and no authentic antique like this (of normal size) will sell for
$70. If it seems too good to be true, it is.
obvious fake is one major reason we no longer give out free value
estimates. The eBay seller asked TricycleFetish about the
value and age of the tricycle. We responded that it was a
couple of years old and made as a decorative plant stand or garbage
can. Seller ignored our assessment (which was 100% correct)
and listed the item on eBay as being an "antique tricycle" and
called it a "boneshaker." Similar imported decorative tricycle sell
retail for a third or less of the $170+ price it sold for on eBay.
Also note, a good giveaway that it is a blatant fake - the
stabilizing metal rod under the basket to keep it from tipping when
a heavy plant is put in the basket.
...and yet another
tricycle from the same seller as above. Obvious fake.
You can't tell from this one picture, but the tricycle had brand new
rough welds. Victorian tricycles did not have welds - for
obvious reasons. This time the seller ripped someone off for
IDENTICAL tricycle to
the fake pictured above sold on eBay for a more realistic $37
(shipping included) for a decorative piece. The seller of this
tricycle advertised it as "old fashioned" and "NEW."
Someone paid over $60
for this one on eBay. Again, only a total of 9 inches tall,
not big enough for a newborn to ride. Advertised as antique
and backed by a whole description about its antiquity. Notice
the rear curved seat support? They are very very rare on
original antique tricycles - very rare, and yet they show up on many
of the fakes seen on eBay.
Yet another fake.
This one sold on eBay for over $40. The same day, one that was
advertised as decorative (not as being old, like this one was
advertised) sold for only $5 before shipping. Also keep in
mind that these are only 9 inches tall, and should ship anywhere in
the US for well under $10. Anyone charging upwards of $20 or
over may be trying to make buyers think this is larger than it
Advertised as 1860's,
listed for $75 on eBay with a reserve above that price. Nobody
bid. Obvious fake for many reasons. No antique tricycle
to our knowledge ever looked anything like this.
Is it real? Who knows.
Auctioned on eBay by a zero feedback seller for opening bid of $800.
Ended with no bids. Most likely fake. Click on the
picture to view the photo the size it was in the auction....doesn't
help much does it?
Whoever made this horse
tricycle made no attempt at showing any wear at all to the paint.
Rather it was painted in a way that makes it look like there is
wear. Also, bad cast iron work and obvious fake pedals and