Commercial vehicles often served a dual purpose. They were used not only to deliver goods, but also to advertise the goods they carried. In May 1979, a delivery wagon design featured in The Hub included the explanation that “there is an increasing demand by business houses in large cities for original and stylish wagons for delivering goods; and such vehicles, by attracting attention in the streets, are considered paying advertisements.” Over time, the vehicles styles evolved and became increasingly decorative. Click on the surrounding fashion plates, taken directly from the trade journals of the day, to learn more.
The CMA archive includes a large collection of photographs taken at horse shows in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A number of these photographs were featured in a display at the 2014 Carriage Festival, hosted by the Carriage Association of America at the Kentucky Horse Park. Many of these photographs can now be viewed here, as an online exhibit.
The Carriage Museum is proud to conserve and display this beautiful harness, made by Mark Cross & Co. of Boston, Massachusetts for Matthew Chaloner Durfee Borden in 1912. In 1845, an Irish saddler named Henry W. Cross opened his own leather goods shop on Boston’s Summer Street and named it after his son Mark who joined the business at age 17. Their reputation for fine work was soon established and the harness and saddles they produced were prized among horsemen. They expanded their inventory to include stable tools and supplies at reasonable prices. Their motto was “Never to be undersold, Never to misrepresent our goods, and Never to allow a reasonable customer to be dissatisfied.” By 1872, Mark Cross opened its first store in New York City, with others following in London, Paris, and Milan. As the need for leather goods diminished with the coming of the automobile, Mark Cross & Co. moved into the market of fine luggage and handbags for which they are known today.
As the transportation industry transitioned from carriages to cars, many carriage manufacturers adapted to the change and adjusted their products and services to follow suit. In 1911, the Ware Brothers Company, publishers of The Carriage Monthly, published their Vehicle Year Book 1911 : Automobiles - Carriages - Wagons. In the Directory Department, there were more than twenty pages of listings for "Carriage and Wagon Builders Doing Auto-Mobile Work." Similarly, advertisers and manufacturers of vehicle components and accessories began appealing to potential customers on both sides of the industry.
The CMA library is a great place to research the history of your carriage. But there are also many resources available online! At the October 2015 Conference of the Carriage Association of America, the CMA gave a presentation on how to get started researching your vehicle. We've compiled many of the links then-librarian Mindy Groff shared here. If you have any questions, or for more information, please contact the CMA directly!