At Play ! Newport had many amusements to offer for all seeking a holiday, especially for the successful members of New York society who built the Bellevue Avenue mansions and came to the seaside to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in summertime. The museum galleries include many examples of games and diversions visitors sought in Newport, ranging from baseball to lawn tennis to bicycling. Newport visitors and locals alike still enjoy these activities today. Here, they can still catch a baseball game at Cardines Field (1908), watch a game of tennis at the Casino (1880), or enjoy a scenic bike ride along Ocean Drive.
Penny Farthing Bicycle Europe or America, ca.1880 Metal, leather and rubber Newport Historical Society (91.7.37) ! This particular kind of bicycle, known as a penny farthing or ordinary bicycle, was popular in the late nineteenth century. The design of the bicycle made for a difficult and potentially dangerous ride for the untrained wheelman, as cyclists were then called. Unlike bicycles of today, which employ chains and multiple gears the rider uses to propel forward, the penny farthing is a fixed gear bicycle and the rider used the pedals to directly move the large front wheel. The seat is mounted high up on the bike, directly over the front wheel. This contributed to the danger of riding the bicycle. If a rider stopped short, they had a good chance of tumbling over the handlebars. Nevertheless, these were very popular among daring young men in the late nineteenth century as both a means of transportation and a form of exercise. The design of the bicycle and difficulty of mounting and dismounting made it a challenge for women in long dresses to attempt to ride. The Newport chapter of the League of American Wheelmen was founded in 1880. Cycling continues to be a popular way of traveling and enjoying the scenery in the city to this day.
Baseball Bat Stall and Dean Brockton, Massachusetts, ca.1900 Wood and tape Newport Historical Society (93.40.6)
Croquet on the Beach The Daily Graphic New York, Jun. 24, 1882. Paper Gift of the United States Croquet Association (93.77.13)
Copy of Photograph A Walk on the Cliff Picturesque America D. Appleton and Company New York, 1873 Paper Newport Historical Society
Photographic Copy of Bicycle Show Flyer Ike Johnson Newport, Rhode Island, 1889 Paper Newport Historical Society (MS 93-20)
Copy of Photograph of Mixed Doubles at the Casino Newport, Rhode Island, ca.1880 Newport Historical Society (P45)
Photographic Copy of Bicycling World Magazine 1879-1881 Paper Newport Historical Society
Copy of Photograph of Newport Country Club under Construction Newport, Rhode Island, 1894 Newport Historical Society (P46)
Photographic Copy of Newport Casino Bulletin Newport, Rhode Island, 1909 Paper Newport Historical Society
Croquet Mallet and Balls Europe or America, ca.1880 Wood Gift of the United States Croquet Association (93.77.1-.4, 93.77.5-.8)
Putter and Iron Europe or America, ca. 1890 Wood and iron Owned by John Nicholas Brown On loan from Michael Kehew Newport Historical Society (L93.49.1, L93.49.2)
Catalog of the exhibit