Jacob Dunn – New York, NY

Jacob Dunn was a respected New York manufacturer best known for making hack-carriages, or carriages used as public conveyances. In April 1872, The Hub provides us with one of his six new styles of stage, designed to carry passengers from train stations to hotels.

The New Circular-Front Stage, by JAcob Dunn

The New Circular-Front Stage, by Jacob Dunn

The Hub authors commended these vehicles as a comfortable and fashionable new style, which would help to bring New York closer to the design of vehicles used for similar purposes in European cities. The vehicle is designed to mirror the appearance of the clarence, but with a lengthened body. This stage has a carrying capacity of thirteen passengers. Passengers enter through a rear door, which is held kept shut by a foot-strap, held down by the driver. When the strap is loosened, the door opens by its own weight.

In his obituary on March 1877, The Hub claims that “probably no carriage-builder in the country was more highly esteemed” than Mr. Dunn, and provides the following brief outline of his life and work:

“Mr. Jacob Dunn was born in New-York, October 18th, 1823. At the age of 13 he began to learn body-making and drafting in the shop of Mr. Levi Adams, in Harlem, and he afterwards worked under instructions with John Swenarton, at 163 Bowery, and Charles Bearsley, Canal-street, completing his apprentice-ship at 18 years of age. When 22 years old, he went to the Wilbraham Academy to prepare for entering Wesleyan University. After completing the course at the Academy, he returned to New-York to assist his brother William, who had just started in business, and, relinquishing the plan of entering the University, he joined his brother in business, forming with him, in 1849, the firm of W.C. & J. Dunn. Increasing business requiring larger facilities, they entered a new factory in the spring of 1853; and this again proving too small, it was several times enlarged. William died in 1868, and Jacob continued the business alone. Their works were destroyed by fire on the evening of October 29th, 1869, and the present great factory – one of the largest and best arranged in this country – was at once begun, and was first occupied in April, 1870. A specialty was made of hack-carriages, and the business was for several years remarkably successful. During 1871 and 1872 a production of five coaches per week was averaged, and a ready sale was found for all; but more recently, in common with all members of the carriage trade, Mr. Dunn had felt the effects of the hard times, and had largely reduced his working force.”