Round Trip: Bicycling Asia Minor, 1891
December 14, 2014–April 5, 2015
In the summer of 1890, two young Americans, William Sachtleben and Thomas Allen, Jr., set off to circle the globe on new-fangled “safety” bicycles. Three years later, after pedaling some 18,000 miles on three continents, their harrowing tales of adventure made them international celebrities (“the greatest travelers since Marco Polo,” by one glowing account). Their timely championing of the bicycle helped to spark the great bike boom of the mid-1890s, which would transform cycling from an elitist, male-dominated pastime into a wildly popular means of recreation and transportation for all. Along the way, Sachtleben and Allen chronicled their adventures with two novel compact Kodak film cameras, heralding a new “democratic” era for photography, as well.
Round Trip: Bicycling Asia Minor, 1891 features forty-two circular black-and-white photographs taken by the cyclists and reproduced from recently scanned negatives held by the UCLA Library Special Collections. The images track a year on the road between Athens, Greece and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The accompanying captions are based on Sachtleben’s meticulous notes, written on the envelopes that contained each original negative.
The photographs vividly convey what the two adventurers experienced as they pedaled across barren dirt roads, river crossings, mountain passes, and volcanic terrains, encountering peoples and cultures entirely foreign to them. The scenes of everyday life also reflect how the locals—many of whom had never before seen a Westerner or a bicycle—reacted to them and to the marvelous technologies that were destined to change ancient ways of life.
An exhibition catalogue of the same title (8.5 x 10 inches, paper, 60 illustrations, ISBN 978-0-990762614, $20.00) accompanies the exhibition. To order, contact Fowler Museum Store: (310) 206-7004.