6 Jan: Rink-O-Mania!
Roller skates, most readily associated with the 1970s, were actually first patented in the US on 6th January, 1863, by New York furniture salesman James Plimpton.
Plimpton developed the shoes after being advised by his doctor to take up ice skating, yet finding himself with nowhere to skate in the Spring and Summer months. He guarded his innovation zealously, and created a leasing model for the novelty boots in specially sanctioned roller parks. America’s first ‘rinking’ craze – dubbed by the press “Rink-O-Mania!” – was born.
In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly learn about an earlier skate-maker, who literally ‘crashed the party’ in 1760s London; explain why roller-skating found a market in the prudish Victorian dating scene; and recall how the first ‘Roller Derbies’ would test their participants to grim exhaustion…
• ‘Wonderful Things: Roller Skates, 1880’ (Science Museum, 2015): https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wonderful-things-roller-skates-1880/
• ‘Roller Skating in the 1900s – Hilarious Photos of Humanity on Wheels’ (The Vintage News, 2018): https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/10/03/photos-of-roller-skating-1900s/?edg-c=1
• ‘Charlie Chaplin in “The Rink”’ (Mutual Film Corporation, 1916):