J.W.S&S / JAP, Germany / England, late 1890s



A classic game, also known as "A Cycling Tour", reissued many times in different formats.

 As most british old games, it was not sold in a big box containing the board AND the game components, but in two parts. This makes it difficult to find both parts together. I am afraid my board was made somewhat later than my components' box

Put the other way round, I am lucky to have a very old components' box, which includes four nice lead victorian cyclists and the original cards. (It also includes some dice and a shaker, but I am not sure if these are original.  Any additional information is welcome.



Of the four tin cyclists, two are male and two are female. These are the ladies.



Gender violence? The two male riders are beheaded!


But wait, one of the heads was in the box after all. Carmen says it belongs to the OTHER rider. Oh!





Here are the cards. There are 3 of each.



This game is reproduced (in a playable form) in Olivia Bristol's "6 Victorian and Edwardian Board Games". She says "...dates from around 1880 when John Stanley introduced his new bicycle with equal-sized wheels and rear chain drive. The game was produced by Spears and printed at their works in Bavaria. Unusually, instructions do not appear on the board itself." In the featured board you can read "Designed in England by JAP. Published by J.W. S & S. New York and produced by their works in Bavaria". With the book you get 4 cardboard riders and 36 playing cards.

On the other hand, in Helmut Schwarz and Marion Faber's "Games We Played, History Of J.W.Spears and Sons" (p.58), one reads "[...] New games appeared from 1904 onwards in the dice/board game area wich took up current developments in transport technology, e.g. [...] "Radeln" (Cycling)..."

Dan Gindling ("Bicycle Collectibles with pricing guide", p.59) says "A Cycling Tour. JW Spears and Sons, London, circa 1890s [...] which came with a separate playing board, 27 playing cards, a spinner and cardboard bicycle player pieces". (Of course, he also mentions an estimated price, which I keep to myself). He adds "Other JW Spears & Sons games include Cycling, A Fascinating Game by JAP, produced in the late 1890s; the 1893 Bicycle Race game and a 1904 german game, Radeln (Cycling)".

All I can add is that "Spear" is one of the big names in the games world (they are the original producers of "Scrabble"). The conpany was was founded in Bavaria by Jacob Wolf Spear in 1879, and quite soon grew to become a highly successful games manufacturer with production facilities in Germany and England since the 1880s.

There are many editions of this game (see below). The one I own (called "A Cycling Tour")  is a small box (27 x 20.5 cms) which says: "Designed in England. Manufactured at the 'Spear' works in Bavaria. Copyright in the United Kingdom. J.W. Spears & Sons. London".





Below are three different versions seen on eBay over the years. The one on the left is the New York version of the game. (Thanks to Bruce Whitehill for the information).





As a curiosity, this is a modern dollhouse version of the game, probably made in Spain. Quite cute, though not all details are correct (the spinner, for instance, does not belong to that game, and they forgot to include the riders). Incidentally, the rule sheet is scanned directly from the picture featured in this page (scroll up to compare), including the bits of paper that are torn, and I suspect that at least the cards are too. Of course no one asked for permission (and of course, I do not care about it).



Click here to see another version of this game.

Compare this game to J. Jacques & Son's "Wheeling"