ROLLER-SKATING, a pastime which, by the use of small wheels instead of a blade on the skate, has provided some of the pleasures of skating on ice without having ice as the surface (see Skating). Wheeled skates were used on the roads of Holland as far back as the 18th century, but it was the invention of the four-wheeled skate, working on rubber springs, by J. L. Plimpton of New York, in 1863, that made the amusement popular. Still greater advance was made by the Raymond skate with ball and cone bearings. The wheels or rollers were first of turned boxwood, but the wearing of the edges was a fault which has been surmounted by making them of a hard composition or of steel. The floor of the rink on which the skating takes place is either of asphalt or of wood. The latter is that always used in newly made rinks. The best floors are of long narrow strips of maple. Figure-skating on roller-skates is in some respects easier to learn than on ice-skates, the four points of contact given by the wheels rendering easier the holding of an edge; but some figures, such as loops, are more difficult.
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