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Welcome to the Karl-Drais memorial on karldrais.de!

Bild: Karl Drais © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing
Karl Drais © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing
Bild: Drais' live mask 1818 © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing
Drais' live mask 1818 © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing
2017 marked the 200th anniversary of the two-wheeler invention. This is considered to be the big bang of personal mobility, since thousands of men sat on machines instead of horses for the first time and rode into the surroundings individually. Yet after worldwide prohibition of the running machines collective transport by the new railways stole the show from them.

The inventor came from a family of civil servants without landed property, but laid down his nobility titles during the Badenian Revolution to be merely citizen Karl Drais. After worldwide fame he was prosecuted from age 50 on by the authorities and monarchists for his democratic convictions culminating in an attempted murder. After his death monarchists made him and his invention look silly by starting tall stories in a purposeful manner.

Thus unheard news on Drais will be found clicking through the following pages and the circumstances of his life.


Bild: a href=
German Euro silver coin 2017
photo: BADV
Bild: German and Swiss special stamps 2017 (photo: Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing)
German and Swiss special stamps 2017 (photo: Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing)



Lessing's thesis published in 1996 recently met with disbelief, mainly since no Drais testimonial has been printed in 1817 for the two-wheeler. Yet in a recently found patent application to the King of Saxony in November 1817 Drais himself described his two-wheeler as a “machine sparing horses and their costs.”

People unfamiliar with the rigorous press censorship then in Germany don't understand, that a testimonial relating to the simultaneousi horse mortality and hunger catastrophe would have been rejected by newspaper editors or printers alike, lest the whole print run would be confiscated.

Bild: Horse mortality was talked about in 1816/17
Horse mortality was talked about in 1816/17


Chronology of facts:

Obviously Drais' inventions followed the earliest and then again to the worst crop failure. Before the stepped-up censorship we have the testimonial of the inventor: horse replacement. That three years later in extremis Drais should have switched his motive to a machine for sports, appears downright absurd. After censorship had been relieved, contemporaries confirmed horse replacement as Drais's motive.
Bild: left: hunger breads 1817, right: censored newspaper 1817
left: hunger breads 1817, right: censored newspaper 1817



Bild:
Just released: Lessing/Lawrence eds: A Carriage That Goes Without Horses – Early writings on the Laufmaschine by Karl von Drais (Cycling History #8), 66 pages, V-CC Book Sales £ 5.00 + £ 1.50 p&p within UK, for other postages ask



Bild:
Celebrating 200 years of the bicycle: “Wie Karl Drais das Fahrrad erfand” by Hans-Erhard Lessing. Updated invention story and Drais's biography – with unpublished copper plates and original texts. Lauinger Verlag, Karlsruhe, 182 pages throughout in colour, 19.90 €, ISBN 3-76508431X



Bild:
This memorial is able to describe his life, achievements and importance merely in a compressed way. An extensive biography of Karl Drais is given in the book "Automobilität – Karl Drais und die unglaublichen Anfänge" by Hans-Erhard Lessing.
Maxime Verlag , Leipzig, 528 pages, 19.95 € (was 32 €). ISBN 3-931965-22-8



Bild:
Classic of bicycle technology history as paperback: “Bicycle Design - An Illustrated History” by Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing. The MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 568 illustrated pages, £ 21.00, ISBN 0-26252970X



Images of Drais - politicallly correct or not?
Bild: left: 1819 authenticbr /right: 1891 anti-democratic smear-sheet on transfer of his mortal remains - not at all authentic
left: 1819 authentic
right: 1891 anti-democratic smear-sheet on transfer of his mortal remains - not at all authentic


© Sören Fink with scientific support of Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing