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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!

Randy, one of our CAA members in California, most recently shared a couple of photos of a 1915 Pierce-Arrow Limousine with a Kimball-built body. He’s now sent this photo and the accompanying information. Thanks again, Randy!

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“This photo was taken on Liberty Street, in Franklin, Pennsylvania, which is in the northwestern part of the state. The women inside is Edna Ulrich, and this is her Popcorn Wagon. If you look closely at the colored glass above her head, you can see her name in the glass. I believe  this is the large ‘D’ Model Cretors wagon with the driver’s seat out in front. I had never seen it, but was told that she had a large pony that she used to hitch to it, and it and the wagon were housed in a building a couple of  blocks away from this spot. I’m not sure of the time period, but the wagon looks in very nice condition, and I am guessing that the customer’s attire dates to maybe around the late 1930s?”

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My guess (Jennifer here) is that the lady’s ankle-length dress would’ve been from an earlier era. What do you think?

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popcorn wagon in philly

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One of our Carriage Association members in California sent me the following story and photos, which I thought y’all might enjoy as well. Thanks, Randy!

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“I work at a family-owned molding / tool shop near San Diego, and the owner is into collecting and driving early automobiles and motorcycles. Occasionally, one of these will wind up at the shop, where we will provide various maintenance or repairs. Recently, he rolled in with his 1915 Pierce-Arrow Limousine, which I had not seen before.”

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car 1

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“Upon looking the car over, one particular item caught my attention. The body on this vehicle had been built by the C. P. Kimball & Co. of Chicago. I have seen a number of Brewster-body cars, but I had never seen a Kimball before.”

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car 2

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“Those of us who are into carriage history are well aware that a number of carriage manufacturers continued on to build bodies for automobiles as the carriage industry dwindled down. Probably the most notable is Brewster building the bodies for Rolls Royce. In that era, you would order an automobile from one of the more high-end automobile manufacturers, and this would consist of a rolling chassis (engine, drive train, fenders, and cowl). It would then be sent off to a coach builder, who would construct the wooden body onto the chassis.

“Although Pierce-Arrow of Buffalo, New York, built their own bodies, this particular vehicle was a special order. In talking with my boss, he informed me that this particular vehicle was ordered by the Kimball family as their personal vehicle. He also mentioned that there are only two of these Limousine-bodied cars in existence (I’m not sure of the boundaries of that statement). The other one is also a 1915 Pierce-Arrow, and who do you think it belonged to? Why, the Vanderbilts of course. It’s always amazing how the people from the carriage era continue to come back to us.”

Guest post from the CMA’s Mindy Groff …

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“Clearance” is not a word I typically associate with antique vehicles. So when I came across a catalog advertising the “Eighteenth Annual Clearance Sale of Seasonable Carriages,” I was intrigued.

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Henderson1

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Henderson2

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This booklet was printed in 1900 by the Henderson Bros. of North Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1856 by John J. Henderson and Robert Henderson. In addition to selling vehicles built by other companies, they also manufactured their own carriages and carriage parts.

According to the opening page, “the purpose of this booklet is to SAVE YOU MONEY, and at the same time reduce our stock quickly. We have reduced the prices on these carriages in some instances to one-third less than what we have been offering them for.” They boast that “we can supply you with any kind of a carriage or wagon that is in common use in this country, and at any price you wish to pay.” The reader is encouraged to “WRITE US NOW” to check availability and place an order. The carriage equivalent, it seems, to buying a used car today.

The vehicles advertised inside do indeed look like bargains. A Brewster Opera Bus, originally priced at $2,600, now reduced to $525. A brand new Break discounted from $2,500 to $650. A six-seat Rockaway for just $185. The booklet is filled with descriptors like “good as new,” “thoroughly renovated,” and “rare bargain.”

If you’d like to view the full listings and see images of the vehicles, you can! We have the original catalog in our library, but it is also available digitally on the Internet Archive, which is a non-profit Internet library. And If you’re not familiar with the Internet Archive, I’d encourage you to check it out further. This is an amazing online resource of digitized books and other printed materials, including many carriage catalogs and texts.

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