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The first two-wheeled vehicle purposely built for personal transportation was invented in 1816 by the German aristocrat Karl Christian Ludwig Drais von Sauerbrohn. The "draisine", as it was named in honor of its inventor, was a sort of two-wheeled horse: in order to ride it, one had to mount and push against the ground with their feet. Drais believed that his "running machine" (Laufmaschine) would replace horses and therefore save on the cost of oat, which, especially during famine, was considerable. In spite of its inventor's ambitions, however, the draisine became nothing more than a fashionable toy for young aristocrats, also called a "hobby horse". Makers let their imaginations run free, carving out of wood marvellous two-wheeled horses, snakes and elephants.



Fig.1 Draisine - Second half of the 19th century, wood. Hanging from the frame, there is a leather strap for attaching a cushion in order to make the ride more comfortable. The bronze bell, which warned pedestrians that a drasine was approaching, carries the Medici coat of arms which show that this model was constructed in Florence. The wheels are older than the rest of the vehicle.

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