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Today is the second full day of the sixth annual CAA Carriage Festival, being held in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. In fact, as I type this, the evening session is due to start in about 20 minutes … so this will be quick!

The judges’ commentary and awards were presented earlier today in this year’s CAA Carriage Showcase, in which restored horse-drawn vehicles are judged on the quality and correctness of the restoration.

In the three photos below are the winners of the major Showcase awards … The Bob Sleigh in the first photo is owned by Dr. Susan Orosz. It was awarded the Davis Documentation Award, and it won the People’s Choice Award. The Sidney Latham Trophy (for the highest-scoring vehicle in use) went to Joni Kuhn’s Spider Phaeton, built c. 1890 by Van Roobroeck of Belgium. And, the final two photos show Chris & Judd Roseberry’s beautifully restored Piano Box Buggy (c. 1905), which won the coveted Carl Casper Trophy, for being the highest-scoring restored vehicle in the Showcase. Congratulations to all the winners!

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blog - Showcase - spider phaeton

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If you’re a U.S.-based Carriage Journal subscriber / Carriage Association member, you may have already read the “Nuts and Bolts” column in the latest issue. (If you’re a subscriber / member living outside the U.S., your magazine is on its way to you now!)

In that column, CAA member Nancy Lindley-Gauthier discusses the “pickaxe” turnout: two wheelers and three leaders.

To help illustrate a draft-horse method of arranging the harness for this unusual turnout, Dave Rohrback hitched his five Percherons in a pickaxe formation, took them for a drive in the woods, and took several photos. This photo is the one that appeared in the “When Four Is Not Enough” column in the August issue.

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blog-pickaxe1

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For a few different views, here are three more images of those same five Percherons that didn’t make it into the magazine.

All four photos by Dave Rohrback. Thanks, Dave, for preparing your turnout and taking these photos to give us a better look at this type of turnout!

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One of the CAA’s members in Belgium wrote to tell us about a carriage restoration that his company finished recently.

He said, “After eighteen months of continuous hard work we can finally add another beautiful vehicle to our long list of restorations: a Traveling Chariot by Laurie & Marner.

“This carriage was in rather sound condition when purchased but needed full restoration. It is fitted with a footman’s platform for town use. The large mud screen in front of the body and the exclusive day and night lamps illustrate its use as a traveling vehicle, in which case it would have been fitted with a seat for the servants.

“We gave it a ‘patina’ finish, and it looks now as if it was stored under the best possible conditions and left untouched for the last 120 years.

“It has been painted a deep burgundy red with orange striping beautifully underlining the delicate wood carvings on the undercarriage.

“The sumptuous interior upholstery, with lavish use of luxurious authentic épinglé lace, demonstrates just well how the wealthy nobility traveled in the nineteenth century.”

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Enjoy these photos of the beautifully restored Traveling Chariot …

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Travelling chariot 2

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Travelling Chariot 3

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Travelling Chariot 4

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Travelling Chariot 5

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Travelling Chariot 6

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Travelling Chariot 7

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Travelling Chariot 1

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Thanks to Mindy Groff (our occasional guest-blogger from the Carriage Museum of America) for this post on one of the lesser-known trade journals …

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When you think about historic carriage periodicals, the first titles that come to mind are probably The Hub and The Carriage Monthly. We talk about these publications often, as they were the leading journals of the carriage era. But let’s not overlook the other journals that were published during this time period, appealing to smaller markets within the carriage community. This week I’ve spent some time reading Vehicle Dealer, and it’s a great resource for this particular aspect of the carriage trade.

Vehicle Dealer cover

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The first volume of the Vehicle Dealer was published in April 1902, and publication continued until 1911. It was printed by the Ware Bros. of Philadelphia, whom you may recognize as the publishers of The Carriage Monthly. The journal was targeted to the fifty or sixty thousand dealers doing business at that time, with a two-fold purpose: to establish communication between these dealers, and to make dealers aware of developments in carriage building so that they could stay ahead in the business. In their first issue, the Vehicle Dealer’s editors wrote that “trade conditions have for some time demanded, and now imperatively demand, that a paper of this character and purpose be published.”

Each issue features articles about trade conditions, shipping and freight costs, carriage repository best practices, ethics of business, and other topics of interest to carriage dealers. The journal was also a great opportunity for wholesale carriage manufacturers to promote their products to these dealers. The advertisements featured new styles, brag about cost and quality, and announce catalog availability.

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Vehicle Dealer Ad

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The advertisements were endorsed as being a service to the dealers, in that they could use each issue as a catalog of sorts in their shops. What should you do if a customer is about to leave without making a purchase? Here’s the suggestion put forth in Vol. 1 No. 1: “When it comes time for the visitor to walk out, after he has looked all over the stock and sees nothing to take his eye, the dealer has one card to play. Let him invite the outgoing, would-be buyer to his office, ask him to take a seat, lay down before him The Vehicle Dealer, open its advertising pages to him and say ‘Now, my friend, look over these 100 pages of carriage illustrations. They represent the latest and best makes of vehicles from all over the United States. Here, my friend, is the greatest carriage repository the world ever saw. Go through it page by page. Look at the description of each display, note the style, appearance, the good points. Turn on, page by page, and you will probably find what you want. If it is not there, it is not made.'” In 1905, the Vehicle Dealer even published a special supplement to the regular journal, the Manufacturers’ Vehicle Cyclopedia for New Styles. It left out the articles altogether, including instead a whole book of advertisements featuring new vehicle styles.

Want to learn more about the Vehicle Dealer? Come visit the library, or “like” us on Facebook! I’ll be sharing more advertisements from this publication over the next few weeks.

One of the vehicles up for auction at last weekend’s Martin Auctioneers carriage sale was an original-condition Brewster coach. It was described in the catalog as a Park Drag, but it appears to be bigger and heavier and perhaps more akin to a Road Coach … and the boot opens the “wrong” way for a Park Drag (from the side instead of from the top). But, regardless, it was an original-condition thing of beauty.

Here are some photos of the coach (taken with the camera on my phone in less-than-ideal lighting, so please excuse the low quality) …

We have views of the toe-board lamp, a view and a detail of one side lamp, and a bit of the other side lamp with its glass turned around for daytime; both doors, one with the window down and the other with the shutter up; details of a rear wheel and the undercarriage; a (dark!) view of the original upholstery, a look at the coach lace on the door, and the Brewster name plate on the inside of one of the doors.

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coach 10

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Thanks to Mindy Groff (our occasional guest-blogger from the Carriage Museum of America) for this post on exploring public libraries …

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When I visit a new place, I’m always curious to see the library. Wherever we travel – from Mackinac Island to the campus of Yale, New York City to Indianapolis – my husband has gotten used to taking detours so that I can poke around neat buildings and unique collections. But there are many parts of this country I’ve yet to explore and many libraries I will never get a chance to visit. Because of this, I’m always excited to learn about opportunities to peruse collections online from the comfort of my computer.

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an internet portal through which materials from collections around the country can be searched, viewed, and even downloaded. It’s a way for internet users like you and me to search through the holdings at libraries, archives, and museums around the country, without visiting them in person. The DPLA pulls resources from a variety of “Hubs,” (large libraries or collecting institutions around the country, which in turn collect resources from smaller organizations within their region), and assembles them into a single searchable database. So with a simple search on their website (www.dp.la), you can access materials from around the country.

I’ve spent a good part of my morning exploring this website. (Have I mentioned recently that I love my job?) Knowing that readers of this blog share my interest in history and/or carriages, I know that you’ll enjoy it as well. Here are just a few of my favorite finds from typing “carriage” into the search box. Try a search for yourself to find thousands more!

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dpla carriage in south yard

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From the collection of the Smithsonian Archives – History Division

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dpla horse and carriage crossing river

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Image courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.

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Guest post from the CMA’s Mindy Groff …

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While looking for something entirely different, I came across this advertisement in the February 1899 issue of The Carriage Monthly.

pantasote

I wasn’t familiar with Pantasote, so I was curious to learn more about the product being advertised. Pantasote is an imitation leather that was produced by the Pantasote Company of New York City beginning in 1891. It was a durable, relatively inexpensive material that was widely used for upholstery purposes, and eventually became quite popular for use in automobiles. It was available in a variety of colors, and could be finished in regular leather grain or with a high-relief embossed effect.

The American Carpet and Upholstery Journal advertised a price of $1.10 per yard in October 1904. You could buy an imitation version for less than half the price, but Pantasote warned potential customers that the copycat versions simply couldn’t compete with the original.

According to this advertisement featured in The Carriage Monthly, as well as other examples I found on various internet archives, Pantasote boasts the following advantages: “Water-proof, grease-proof, stain-proof and germ-proof. Does not rot, peel or crack. Is not affected by heat or cold, and is not inflammable.” That’s quite a claim!

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