The "New England Kitchen" display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 sparked an interest in America's colonial heritage that presaged the Colonial Revival movement. For many women, this translated into a renewed regard for simple materials and good handcraftsmanship applied to ordinary household items, and no fashionable Colonial Revival interior was complete without a spinning wheel in the corner, a cotton quilt on the bed, and a hooked rug on the floor. The exposition also included a display of English bicycles that sparked a cycling craze in America through the end of the century. From 1890 until 1896, the number of cyclists rose from about 150,000 to 4 million. The fad inspired the institution of professional cycling clubs and bicycle races, which became increasingly popular during the 1890s. After this period, widespread interest in cycling diminished, replaced by automobile driving and other activities. The imagery on this rug suggests a date between the 1880s and 1890s, when the high-wheelers depicted in the scene were in their heyday. It is more likely, however, that it was made during the Colonial Revival period, when hooked rugs began to exhibit a taste for nostalgic scenes with related texts.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Close Finish Hooked Rug," in American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 370.