Henry Hooker & Co. –New Haven, CT

Cover page of the 1895 Henry Hooker & Co. catalog.

Cover page of the 1895 Henry Hooker & Co. catalog.

Henry Hooker & Co., of New Haven, CT, was renowned for their wide variety of high quality vehicles, which appealed to affluent customers. The following brief history is excerpted from a biography of Frank H. Hooker published in The Hub in July 1, 1880.

“Mr. Frank J. Hooker, of New-Haven, is the worthy representative of one of the largest and best known carriage houses in this country, and the youngest officer of the Carriage-Builders’  National Association. To more clearly define his position in the trade, we will first give a brief history of the great house of Henry Hooker & Co., with which he is connected.

This house was established in 1845 by Mssrs. G.D. Cook & Co., who made a specialty of light carriage work, and who, by long and patient devotion to the business, gradually built up a large and highly remunerative trade, which was mainly confined to the Southern States, where they had branch houses.

From a collection of Henry Hooker drawings held by the CMA. Park Phaeton with no top, three elliptic springs, and reach. Drawings circa 1880 to 1890. The company employed their own designers and draftsmen, whose vehicle renderings were often published in the trade magazines.

From a collection of Henry Hooker drawings held by the CMA. Park Phaeton with no top, three elliptic springs, and reach. Drawings circa 1880 to 1890. The company employed their own designers and draftsmen, whose vehicle renderings were often published in the trade magazines.

The extent of the business of G.D. Cook  Co., and the serious injury inflicted upon it by the opening of the war, are illustrated by the fact that in the first six States which seceded the Union, they had debtors to the amount of $211,000, which amount proved practically a total loss. This calamity so crippled that house that a change became necessary, and on January 1st, 1863, a new firm was formed, known as G.D. Cook & Company, the members being Messrs. Henry Hooker, James Brewster (father of the Brewsters who have since become so prominent in New-York), Leverett Candee and Edwin Marble (now President of the house of Henry Hooker & Co.), to whom the business was transferred, and the Cooks retired. The next change occurred on March 28, 1864, when the firm of Hooker, Candee & co. was formed, but no change occurred in the personnel of the firm until 1865, when Mr. Candee died. On January 7th, 1868, the present joint stock company was incorporated, under the general law of the State of Connecticut, known as Henry Hooker & Co., consisting of Henry Hooker (President), Edwin Marble, and heirs of James Brewster.

Under the new management the business was rapidly built up, until it rivaled that of the Cooks ten years previously, and on the death of Henry Hooker, Oct. 3, 1873, the Presidency passed into the hands of Mr. Marble, and the treasureship to Mr. Hooker’s oldest son, Mr. Frank H. Hooker.”

Introductory text from the 1895 Henry Hooker & Co. catalog. The original catalog is held in the CMA library, and reproductions are available for purchase through the Carriage Association of America, at www.caaonline.com

Introductory text from the 1895 Henry Hooker & Co. catalog. The original catalog is held in the CMA library, and reproductions are available for purchase through the Carriage Association of America

For many years, the company hosted an annual Spring Carriage Exhibition in their New Haven vehicle repositories. The exhibitions displayed the wide variety of carriages they manufactured, including unique designs based on national and international styles. In the March 1882 edition of The Hub, a visitor to the Hooker Exhibition noted that “the fine quality of the workmanship, and the exquisite taste displayed in the selection of materials and the combination of colors, were also noteworthy features, and deserving of the highest praise.” (page 652).

You can learn more by viewing the company’s 1907 catalogue, advertising their High Grade Carriages.