Olivier Brothers – Aimé, René, and Marius Olivier
The Oliver Brothers
Talking about the early history of bicycles would be incomplete without acknowledging the Oliver brothers’ contribution to the first mass production and popularization of the first bicycles (known as velocipedes).
Their inventions created the first bicycle craze in history, which inspired countless inventors to continue figuring out how to enhance the capabilities of modern bicycles, a trend that became especially apparent in England, where bicycles were well received.
Originating from a wealthy family that controlled several chemical plants in Lyon, the Olivier brothers, Aime, René, and Marius, were the first to recognize the potential for a bicycle-based commercial industry.
During their time as students in Paris, they encountered several inventors whose designs caught their attention, and after testing the first pedal-powered velocipedes, they made the decision to open a new factory to manufacture bicycles for the French public, who were fascinated by new modes of transportation.
They were in charge of the business end of the bicycle’s production and sales, but they also received help from two other inventors who provided specific knowledge to the design of bicycles: Pierre Lallement, who many modern historians believe was the first to attach pedals and a rotary crank to a charming horse-drawn velocipede, and Pierre Michaux, who would later become one of their partners.
By the end of the century, penny farthings and safety bicycles had been produced, and the global cycling industry had reached incredible heights. The bicycle mania had ended in France and the USA in 1869, but over the following few decades, English inventors continued to expand the bicycle business at an extraordinary pace.
Aimé Olivier de Sanderval
His Early life
As the second of three brothers—the other two, Marius and René, were born in 1839 and 1843, respectively—he was born in Lyon, attended the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris, graduated in 1860 with a bachelor of science, and went on to study at the Parisian Central School of Arts and Manufactures, where his uncle Théodore Olivier was a co-founder, in 1864.
In August 1865, René and Aimé Olivier, along with Georges de La Bouglise, traveled by velocipede (an early form of the bicycle) across France from Paris to Tullins to visit the Olivers’ uncle, Michel Perret; they then continued on to Avignon. While still students at the Central School, the Olivier brothers became acquainted with Pierre Michaux. They became early velocipede manufacturers. In partnership with Michaux, they formed the Michaux et Cie company in May 1868. However, they eventually parted ways with Michaux, and Michaux et Cie was dissolved. The Compagnie Parisienne des Vélocipèdes was established, but the French public lost interest in the velocipede, and the second company came to an end in 1874, leaving Aimé Olivier open to another venture.
Time In Africa
An ardent follower of French adventurer René Caillié, Olivier personally traversed a significant portion of “Lower and Middle Guinea,” making two trips to Timbo via Boké (1880 and 1888) and one to Labé (1875).
He had coins struck while attempting to establish his own realm in the Fouta Djallon region in what is now Guinea.) The concessions were taken away from him, but they contributed to the creation of a French protectorate over the Fouta Djallon area. He lived for many years in the Labé and Timbo regions and convinced the almamy, the leader of the imamate of Futa Jallon, to grant him sizable territorial concessions.
He later made Conakry his home, and the city’s Sandervalia neighborhood bears his name.
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