A Brief History
Buggies were an important mode of short-distance transportation back in the day. This was especially important between the years of 1815 and 1915. During that era, horseback riding in rural areas was less common and required more skill than driving. Horsemanship skills were more for the aristocratic American and British landowners. Until the mass-production of the automobile and the reasonable prices that the working-class could afford, horse and buggy was the most common and reliable means of transportation.
Anatomy of a Carriage
Types of Carriages--Single Seat
- Developed in the first third of the 19th century.
- A four-wheeled vehicle with a floor made of springy wood like Ash, with several planks, about one inch thick, attached to the axles. The springiness of the wood was supposed to substitute for steel springs and provided comfort over rough roads.
- Seat near the center on risers.
- Extremely popular, economic, and versatile.
- Variety of styles.
- Hung on a side bar or end springs.
- Also produced with a cut under option (a sculpted underbelly).
- Buggies without tops also known as Road Wagons or Runabouts.
(Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Horse_and_buggy_1910.jpg)
Coal Box Buggy
- Body cut down in the front and back.
- Name comes from its resemblance to a grocer's coal box.
(An antique grocer's coal box. Photo courtesy of https://www.etsy.com/listing/97179034/antique-coal-bin-tole-coal-hod-with-cast?ref=sr_gallery_8&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_page=20&ga_search_type=all)
Concord Buggy (or Wagon)
- Shallow body, straight or slightly curved.
- Mounted on a Concord body consisting of three reaches and steel side springs.
- Popular drop-front body designed by Thomas Goddard.
- Most common type of buggy.
- Name is synonymous with the Piano-Box Buggy except the Piano-Box Buggy has rounded corners.
(An end-spring square-box buggy. Photo courtesy of http://18.104.22.168/SingleSeat.html)
(A Sidebar Square-Box Buggy. Photo courtesy of http://22.214.171.124/SingleSeat.html)
(A Piano-Box Buggy. Photo courtesy of http://126.96.36.199/SingleSeat.html)
- Very light-weight, four-wheeled trotting wagon.
- Intended for use on the track.
Queen's Body Phaeton
- Lady's pleasure vehicle.
- Characterized by its graceful curved bottom line.
- Shown here with a basket body.
Types of Carriages--Multiple Seat
- Several versions made by different companies, ie: Lenox; Beach and Country Club Wagons.
- Brewster and Co. was the original manufacturer.
- Light, three-spring driving wagon.
- Normally has two seats.
- Finished with natural wood.
- Adapted from the heavier vehicles used to train horses to harness.
- An owner-driven outing and sporting vehicle.
- Seat height made it popular at spectator events.
(A Roofseat Break. Photo courtesy of http://188.8.131.52/MultiSeat.html)
- Important in large stables.
- Used for training young or unruly horses, and for exercising teams.
(A Skeleton Break. Photo courtesy of http://184.108.40.206/MultiSeat.html)
Coach, Private Road
- For the sport of four-in-hand driving, which was a popular pastime in the northeast in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
- The New York Coaching Club used reproductions of early English Mail Coaches for private coaching trips with family and friends. A series was also run in famous cities and resorts for pleasure.
(A Private Road Coach. Photo courtesy of http://220.127.116.11/MultiSeat.html)
Dog Cart Phaeton
- Same usage and characteristics as a two-wheeled dog cart.
- Usually constructed with a cut-under body when set on four wheels.
(A Two-Wheeled Dog Cart. This is usually used for tandem driving. Photo courtesy of http://18.104.22.168/images/ID%20Images/DogCart2.jpg)
(A Four-Wheeled Dog Cart Phaeton. Photo courtesy of http://22.214.171.124/MultiSeat.html)
Driving Phaeton with Spindle Seats
- Phaeton class is probably the most diverse type of horse-drawn vehicle.
- Has no driver's seat. Is owner-driven.
- Popular as a sporting and pleasure vehicle.
- This one's doors are designed to give easy entry to the back seat.
- Small and light vehicle.
- Generally low to the ground for easy access.
- Characterized by graceful curving lines.
- Often equipped with a rumble seat (seating for servants in the back of the carriage, not where the owners are) for the accompanying groom (horse groom, not wedding groom).
- If no rumble, the groom would ride along on horseback.
- Four-wheeled covered carriage with panels, curtains, or glass sides.
- Drivers' seats included in the body proper and on the same level as the rest of the seats.
- Common roof covers all of the seats.
- Depot Wagon (or Station Wagon) is a form of the Rockaway.
(A Rockaway. Photo courtesy of http://126.96.36.199/MultiSeat.html)
(A Depot Wagon. Photo courtesy of http://188.8.131.52/MultiSeat.html)
- Gentleman's Phaeton with a Tilbury body (the two-wheeled version of a Spider is a Tilbury Gig) set on four wheels with a skeleton grumble for the groom (horse groom, not wedding groom).
- Very popular for pleasure and competitive show.
(A Tilbury Gig c. 1830. Photo courtesy of http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?image=10326088)
- Square-box body with a curved front seat and rail back seat for one or two grooms (horse grooms).
- Often equipped with a falling top for the front seat only.
- Suspension usually on elliptic springs, but also found with platform or mail springs.
- Name derived from the Stanhope pillar that extends from the front seat at the front end down to the molding of the body.
- Similar to the Mail Phaeton, although lighter in construction.
- Utilizes mail (or telescoping) springs.
- Principle feature is the sliding, swinging, or pivoting seats, which allow the accommodation of two to four people.
- Rear seat can be made to face forward or backward.
- Short wheel base accentuates the overall appearance of height.
- No tops provided with this vehicle.
(A Three-Spring Trap. Photo courtesy of http://184.108.40.206/MultiSeat.html)
- Can be found large or small, open or closed.
- Principle feature is the longitudinal seats behind the driver's seats, facing one another.
- Access gained by a rear door.
Types of Carriages--Coachman Driven
Barouche (also known as a Caleche)
- Member of the Coach family.
- Consists of the undercarriage and lower quarters of a coach, including the lower halves of the doors.
- Passengers sit facing one another, usually with a folding forward seat, and the driver's seat is elevated.
- Has a falling top to cover the back seat, but is only occasionally equipped with an extension top that covers both passenger seats.
- Modified, lighter version of the Barouche.
- Also known as an American Barouche.
(Small doors are open in this photo. Courtesy of http://220.127.116.11/Coachman.html)
- Originally developed in 1838 by Lord Brougham.
- Original use intended as a gentleman's carriage.
- Full-paneled coupe body, compact, and low-hung, with a paneled boot for the driver.
- Made for two passengers, although a third could ride in the front with the driver.
- Similar to Brougham, but not the same.
- Has a semi-circular or bow-front glass and two seats inside for up to four passengers.
- Enclosed carriage for the conveyance of passengers with the driver's boot framed into the body.
- Widely-varied family, from European royalty to American workman's coaches.
- Large, usually closed, four-wheeled carriage with two or more horses harnessed as a team, controlled by a coachman and one or two postilions.
(The Gold State Coach of the British Monarch. Photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28carriage%29#mediaviewer/File:Gold_state_coach.jpg)
(A pleasure coach. Photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28carriage%29#mediaviewer/File:Eakins,_Fairman_Rogers_Four-in-Hand_%28May_Morning_in_Park%29_1880.jpg)
American Town Coach
- This American Town Coach is a Curtain Coach, named because of the curtains on the vehicle.
- Other types:
- Glass Coach: has glass windows.
- Closed Coach: has solid panels.
- Finely furnished and popular with the well-to-do in the post-revolutionary era until the 1850s.
Heavy Concord Coach
- Originally manufactured by the Abbott-Downing Co. of Concord NH.
- Used as stagecoaches and hotel coaches.
- Built in various sizes.
- Largest accommodated up to 12 inside passengers and a large amount of luggage.
(A Heavy Concord Coach. Photo courtesy of http://18.104.22.168/Coachman.html)
(A Concord Hotel Coach. Photo courtesy of http://22.214.171.124/Coachman.html)
- Mainly used as a public vehicle, but had limited private use on occasion.
- Most common in London. Gained acceptance in the U.S. in the late 19th Century, mainly in NYC.
- Essentially a coach with a falling top.
- Top is two separate pieces that lock together when up.
- Related to the Omnibus.
- Public vehicle.
- Sometimes called a Private Omnibus.
- A short passenger compartment behind the elevated driver's seat with glass.
- Seats run lengthwise facing one another, wagonette-style.
- Mainly used as a park carriage.
- Name was applied by the French in honor of Queen Victoria.
- Panel-Boot Victorias have the driver's seat framed in the body. Sometimes called a Cabriolet.
- Many Victorias have a child's seat that folds down from the rear of the panel-boot.
- Methods of suspension vary.
- Found with four elliptic springs, elliptic and platform springs, c-springs, or double suspension.
(An Eight-Spring Victoria. Photo courtesy of http://126.96.36.199/Coachman.html)
Vis-à-Vis (also known as a Sociable)
- French for "face-to-face."
- Name is derived from the passenger seating arrangement.
- Originally built for two passengers, the body was later widened and some could carry six passengers.
- Term was later used for passengers sitting facing one another.
(A Basket Body Vis-à-Vis. Photo courtesy of http://188.8.131.52/Coachman.html)
Yellowstone (or Sightseeing) Wagon
- Passenger wagon on a thoroughbrace.
- Used as an excursion or sightseeing wagon.
- Built with an open body, three or four seats, and a canopy top.
- Originated with Abbott-Downing Co. of Concord, NH.
Wanna give a guess at what kind of carriage ours is? Feel free! Comments are welcome below. Swing on by today to say hello and see this important piece of history.