History of Roller Skates

What is the history of roller skates? We all love our skates, whatever kind they are: inline or quads, but do we really know where they came from? Who actually invented roller skates?

Skating in the past centuryThe history of roller skates begins in the Netherlands, people used  ice skates to get from one place to the other through their net of frozen canals in the winter, but at some point,  a very creative yet unknown guy decided to try "dry land skating" in the Summer. To accomplish this, he used  strips of wood to which he nailed a couple of wooden spools, and then attached the strips to his shoes.

Later, it is said that a performer in the London theater used a pair of roller skates on stage, and that's the first time people actually saw a roller skate, and this is where the history of roller skates begins.

But it wasn't until 1759 that Joseph Merlin, an accomplished violinist and instrument maker, decided to construct a pair of skates in order to impress the attendants of a masquerade by rolling in playing the violin while skating. His was a very crude design. His skates had only two metal wheels aligned to the  center of the shoe. Unfortunately, he had not mastered the art of breaking on skates, and his spectacular entrance to the party was ruined when he crashed into a huge mirror, breaking his violin, and his pride. A fun fact in the history of roller skates. In the following years, skate technology improved, and skates were starting to become more popular. In the mid 1800s, Giacomo Meyerbeer wrote the opera, La Prophète, which included an ice skating scene which was performed on the improved roller skates. The opera was a huge success, not only for its merits, but because people wanted to see the famous roller skating scene. After that, an Italian Ballet  performed The Skaters, choreographed and composed by Paul Taglioni, which also included an ice skating episode performed on roller skates. In essence, inline skates were used before the quads became popular, so they are not a "modern" invention.Antique Roller Skates

The quad skates entered history in 1863, when  James Plimpton, an American inventor, designed a pair of skates with two sets of wheels parallel to each other, one pair on the heel, and another below the toes.  These new skates were able to navigate curves, and that's when roller skating stopped being a very difficult and dangerous pastime. There were obviously innumerable models through the years, until now, that we get the super modern and practical inline skates of today. So now you know the history of roller skates.


 

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