Roller skates got their start with quite a bang, making their first public appearance at a masquerade party in the 1760s. Inventor John Joseph Merlin wore his newfangled wheeled shoes to an event at Carlisle House in London, where he promptly smashed into mirror, hurting himself and the invention’s reputation for decades to come.

In 1818, roller skates made a more triumphant debut as part of a ballet staged in Berlin. Titled “Der Maler oder die Wintervergn Ugungen” (The Artist or Winter Pleasures), the show featured ice-skating scenes, which were replaced with roller skating so they could be performed on an indoor stage. The following year, the first recorded patent for a roller skate was given to Monsieur Petibledin in France. Petibledin’s skates were made to attach on the bottom of a normal shoe, with a wooden sole mounted over a single “inline” row of wood, copper, or ivory wheels.

The modern roller skate wasn't born until 1863, when James Leonard Plimpton created the device he called a quad-skate. Plimpton’s wooden wheels were mounted on a rubber cushion that allowed them to pivot slightly when the wearer leaned left or right. In the building that housed his furniture business, Plimpton installed a floor for roller skating and invited customers to rent his skates and test them out; he also helped establish the New York Roller Skating Association (NYRSA) to popularize the activity as a recreational sport.

Around the same time, E.H. Barney created a metal clamp-on design that worked for both ice and roller skates, and could be tightened using a screw. A version with adjustable length appeared in the 1890s, allowing users with different-size feet to share the same skates—this style became common with kids up through the 1960s.

In the following decades, Plimpton’s design was updated with ball-bearing wheels for smoother movement as roller rinks and roller-polo leagues popped up in cities across the United States. Eventually, standard skates included a tall boot that laced up over the ankle, providing extra support and movement control. Charlie Chaplin starred in the first film about roller skating in 1916, called simply “The Rink.”

During the 1930s, the term roller derby became common for speed skating and long-distance competitions with multiple events. By the end of the decade, promoter Leo Seltzer began altering standard roller-derby rules to make it more of a contact sport, and by the 1950s, the National Roller Derby League included six teams nationwide.
Skate designs were again updated with the development of sturdier plastics and the introduction of toe stops in the 1950s and '60s. Along with the spread of car-centric drive-in restaurants, the skating carhop became a common sight in suburban America.

The disco era reignited the roller-skating trend as adults took to the dance floors in polyurethane skates, and films like “Rollerball” and “Xanadu” featured the fashionable sport. In the 1980s, Scott and Brennan Olson founded the Rollerblade company, which promoted inline skates as the new frontier—like Kleenex, the word Rollerbade is now so accepted, it is often used generically.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Riedell Usa Rs-1000 Roller Derby Skates Womens White PinkVintage 1970's Riedell Blazer Leather Roller Speed Skates Mens 12Rollerblades Size 8 WomensVintage Riedell Usa Suregrip Invader Roller Skates Red Wing 6 Labeda Turbo WheelWomen's Riedell 130l Brown Suede Skates Quad Roller Size 7 Made In Usa Sure GripValo Aggressive Inline Skates Men's Us 10.5Sure Grip Boxer Brand Roller Skates Size 6 Women's Youth Girls Roller Derby Men's Douglass Snyder Custom Built Roller Skates Riedell 297 R Size 12 1/2Mens Riedell R3 Cayman Size 9 Black Roller Skate Derby SpeedMen's Roller Skates Size 10K2 Moto 100 Inline Skates Size 11 No ReserveLuigino Lu-195 Victory Boot Inline Speed SkatesMen's Rollerblades Pro Marathon, Sliderace Us 10 1/2 Red/whiteRollerblade Crossfire 90 Mens Inline Skates Size 8.5 Lightly Used In BoxUltra Wheels Biofit Xt7 Mens Size 9 Inline Roller Blades Skates Hockey Nice!Womens Riedell 220 Vintage White Leather Roller Skates Chicago Plates Size 8.5Riedell Classic Vintage Roller Skates Size 11 K2 Camano Softboot Inline Skates Rollerblades Mens Sz 11 Used 2 With PadsWomens Rock Speed Freaks Roller Skates Size 9 With Pink Flames Men's Roller Blades Rd Hybrid Anti Shock Size 12Sure Grip Sugar Hybrid Quad Skate Wheels Roller Derby W/ Kwik Abec5 BearingsK2 Inline Skates - Women's Exo 2.0 - Size 8Inline Skates Women's Bladerunner Pro 80 W, Size 856 Pack - 7 Sets-kryptonics Inline Roller Hockey Skate Wheels (72mm/78a)Euc Roller Derby Sparkle Girls Lighted Wheel Quad Skate Kids Size 12Women's Viper M1 Roller Derby Shoes Size 9Roller Blades, 2xs - Mens Size 11- Shock AbsorberK2 Fatty Pro Aggressive Inline Skates Mens Size 9Men's K2 Aggressive Inline Skates Back Yard Roller Blades Size 8.5Roller Derby Z7 Formula Quad Roller Skates / Speed Skates - Men's Size 12Edea Italy Made Preludis Roll Line Variant Magnum Womens 235 6 Roller Skates /.Rollerblades Size 13Biltrite Roller Hockey Padded Shorts Pants Girdle Size Adult MediumCorr Ata 990 Aggressive Trick Inline Park Street Skate Size 10 RollerbladesRemz Inline Skates Size 11Rock Gt50 Roller Skates Used Once! Size 10 DerbyPacer Vapor Mens Black Roller Skates Size 10Lightning Rollerblades With Soft Boots Size 13 1/2Salomon Tr Racing Inline Skates Mp 27.0 Us 9 Roller BladesSkate City Model Sc-750b Mens Size 7 Roller Derby Nike Comp Lite Woman's Roller Blades - Size 6 Or Kid's Size 4Aurora Roller Skate Rapid Fit Stx Krytec Composite Size 11Mission Inhaler Ac5 Roller Hockey SkatesWomen's Sonic Cruiser Roller Skates. Sz. 8 Med. Good Preowned Condition!Roller Skate WheelsExcellent Pair Of Ozone 500 Inline Skates Roller Blades With Pads Woman Size 10K2 Size 14 Rollerblades Used Twice Then Stored... Includes Wrist GuardMission Detonator Proto Vi Roller Hockey Skates...sz 12dRare Vtg Roller Skates World Cup Lightning Bolt Unisex Rollerskating DerbyRollerblade Dt5 Trs Size 9 Aggressive Inline SkatesMen's Roces Roller Blades Aggressive Hard Inline Street Skates Sz 10Girls,kids Sz 6-9 Disney Glitter Fairies Tinker Bell 2 In 1 Trainer Roller SkateFforward Formula Inline Skates Adult Size Womens 13 Mens 11 Rollerblades NiceVintage Ridell Black 101/2 Mens Rollerskates (guaranteed Little Wear)K2 Z Se Inline Skates/roller Blades Mens Size 13 Us Brown Suede Rollerblades EucRollerblades Womens Size 8 By Rollertech. ChicagoRoller Derby Ladies Roller Skates Sz. 8Size 8 Ladies Chicago Roller SkatesBlade Runner Kids Adjustable Roller Blades Size 1-4Skechers Sport Energy 4 Wheelers Roller Skates Women’s Size 8 Us Navy/grey/pink