The Victorians are coming!

Gabriel Chrisman on his bicycle. Photo courtesy Estar Hyo-Gyung Choi, Mary Studio.

Local bike store owner gives the gift of music to modern-day Victorianists

New Westminster, BC — Gordon Hobbis of the Original Bike Shop and Cap’s Bicycle Museum, will be giving a 19th century Edison cylinder record player to  a modern-day couple of Victorian experts and avid cyclists.  Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman will be visiting New Westminster to discuss late nineteenth-century culture, fashion and technology (including bicycles, of course) at the Original Bike Shop in Sapperton on Tuesday, June 20th from 7pm to 9pm.

Tickets for this “Cycling in Victorian Times” presentation are $5 and can be purchased at:


Gordon Hobbis is a local bike store owner who happens to collect high wheel bicycles. On a recent visit to Washington State he met up with Gabriel and Sarah. He noticed that they had all the makings of a “modern” Victorian house including a recently refurbished ice box. What was missing was music. Gordon asked why they didn’t have any period music players, and the Chrismans explained that more pressing expenses had always taken priority.  However, they said they would love to have one someday, as it would add one more detail to their full immersion experience.

Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman in their front parlour. Photo courtesy Estar Hyo-Gyung Choi, Mary Studio.

That’s when the offer was made. “Come for a visit and I will give you a cylinder player,” Gordon said. The plan is for Gordon and Gabriel to ride their high wheel bikes together and then enjoy an evening listening to some of the over 100 original wax cylinders Gordon has accumulated. After that, Gabriel will have his pick of records to take along with him.

A cylinder record player is a fascinating mechanical device from the 1880’s. It was the first practical sound recording and reproduction device.  Hand-cranked springs provide the power to spin a wax cylinder at the precise speed needed to produce the vibrations from a finely-tuned steel needle that tracks through a groove in the cylinder. The recording is amplified by a sound box attached to the needle and the waves of richly nuanced and crackly music and voice flow from a large horn attached to the player. The way to control volume is to “put a sock” in the horn to muffle the sound. The cylinder plays for two minutes and then the process starts again.

The Chrisman’s Victorian home in Port Townsend WA.

The Chrismans live in Port Townsend, WA and their in-depth immersion studies of the Victorian era have received international attention. They use oil lamps in their home and cook on a wood-burning stove.  They wear Victorian clothing every day, including a corset in Sarah’s case, and antique eyeglasses in Gabriel’s.  They ride high wheel cycles and Sarah authors books about them. They are not actors, they are committed to the lifestyle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We are excited to meet this couple and enjoy their experiences living in a different time,” says Gordon. “Cap would have thought and done the same – the Cap’s Bicycle Museum was always about caretaking the past and educating the future on how things used to be done. We can learn a lot from the old ways.”

Contact:              Gordon Hobbis, The Original Bike Shop & Cap’s Bicycle Museum,         New Westminster, BC  |  604-307-4477  |  |

For more information onSarah and Gabriel Chrisman: