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1969 Mustang Boss 429 KK 1663

Kar Kraft no. 1663

1969 Mustang Boss 429 KK 1663

Acquired November 29, 2017

 

This magnificent 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 was the recipient of the highest award conferred by the Mustang Club of America, the Thoroughbred Gold Award. Thoroughbred Gold is awarded only to Mustangs determined through a strict judging regime to be 100-percent date-code correct. To achieve this exceptional standard of excellence, the recipient must be proven to use only original or NOS parts and components throughout, with zero exceptions. This includes not only the original drivetrain but also every single piece down to the most seemingly insignificant detail. In judging a vehicle for Thoroughbred Gold, MCA judges examine every single number on every single component for correctness and authenticity. This rigorous examination includes such items as the air filter, engine bay decals and undercarriage markings, labels and tags, console lid, Ram Air rubber hood seal—even the Comfort Weave seat upholstery, where used, is checked for correctness. Only 40-year-old original or Ford Motor Company NOS parts are accepted.

Those standards were met across the board in the Concours-grade restoration of this 1969 Boss 429. Kar Kraft number 1663, it was produced on April 1, 1969 and sold new at the legendary Tasca Ford in East Providence, Rhode Island. As New England’s most successful Ford dealer with access to Ford President Bunkie Knudsen’s inner sanctum, Tasca was instrumental to the creation of many performance Mustangs, including the Boss 429.

Restored in the original Candyapple Red paint with a black interior and equipped with the 820-T version of the Boss 429/375 HP engine, this Boss Nine is fitted with significant and hard to find components such as an original exhaust system, original tires and original battery. Furthermore, this ultimate award-winning Mustang Boss 429 is well-documented with the build sheet, owner’s card, Marti Report, copies of shipping invoices and owner’s manual with Boss 429 supplement.

The Boss Nine’s primary mission was the homologation of the new “Semi Hemi” 429 CI engine for NASCAR, but it was more than just a Mustang with a big engine. Every Boss 429 was treated to a Borg Warner close-ratio 4-speed, 3.91:1 Traction-Lok differential, power steering and front disc brakes, competition suspension with a ¾-inch rear sway bar, a trunk-mounted battery, chromed Magnum 500 wheels with F60-15 Goodyear Polyglas GT tires and the Deluxe Decor interior.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

(Courtesy Mecum Auctions)

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John Deere Shaker Potato Plow

 

John Deere Shaker Potato Plow

This restored John Deere Shaker Potato Plow was shown in a 1926 John Deere Plow Company catalog.  It is possibly a circa 1923 model.

An ideal implement for a limited area of potatoes. It is designed to be a horse drawn walk behind plow.  Its operation is extremely simple and proved to be an effective labor saving device.  The wooden roller is designed to clear away weeds and vines ahead of the blade. The flat blade is designed to cut into the hill and get under the potatoes. The shaker wheel behind the blade agitates the grate and shifts out the dirt, leaving the potatoes on top of the ground. The gauge wheels are adjustable to regulate the depth of the blade. The digger weighs 152 pounds.

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John Deere Model H Series 47 Manure Spreader

 

John Deere Model H Series 47 Manure Spreader

The Model H Manure Spreader was in production from 1939 to 1951.  The style pictured here is circa post WW II 1945.

The beautifully restored example is painted in the standard JD green paint with yellow accents.  The steel spoke wheels with rubber tires power the conveyor and dispensing mechanisms.  This model is configured to be trailered behind the tractor via a simple hitch setup.

Manure spreaders were an indispensable part of farming in the days before chemical fertilizers.  They efficiently fertilized fields helping to ensure high productivity.

Deere began selling manure spreaders in 1910 with the acquisition of Kemp & Burpee Co.

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’48 John Deere Model A Tractor

 

1948 John Deere Model A Tractor

Acquired August 2013

This Model A is pictured hitched to a John Deere Model 52 “rope trip” 2 bottom trailer plow with optional rubber tires on steel rims.

The Two-Cylinder Letter Series Model A John Deere tractors were produced from 1934 to 1952 at the Waterloo, Iowa factory.  Total built: 300,000

The John Deere Model A Tractor was the first true row-crop tractor and is one of the most beloved tractors in John Deere’s 175 year history. The first Model A was manufactured in April of 1934 and came equipped with an impressive 25 horsepower engine and a 4-speed transmission.

The John Deere Model A Tractor was the first tractor that had adjustable wheel treads, which gave it a wider range of utility and adaptability than other models on the market at that time. Having the ability to change the space between rear wheels gave the operator more control, ultimately making it easier to steer the tractor.

The year 1940 marked the beginning of two changes meant to improve the functionality of the John Deere Model A. During this time, the size of the engine was increased from 309 cubic inches to 321 cubic inches in an effort to make it more powerful. One year later, in 1941, the Model A boasted a new transmission, and it went from four forward speeds to six.

The “slant dash” Model A tractor was produced between 1939 and 1947, and it featured an electric start option in which a special hood piece was used to cover the battery. By 1947, the battery was moved under the seat.

In 1952, the production of the John Deere Model A finally came to an end, marking an impressive nearly 20-year manufacturing lifetime. The John Deere Model A Tractor was a revolutionary tractor, spawning an entire line of two-cylinder tractors that included the B, G, L, LA, H, and M.  Today, these tractors are collected rather than used, which is a credit to not only their reliability at the time they were used, but also to how they are still revered by John Deere collectors and enthusiasts.

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John Deere Model 52 “rope trip” 2 bottom trailer plow

 

John Deere Model 52 “rope trip” 2 bottom trailer plow

Pictured is a John Deere 50 Series plow.  It appears to be a Model 52 “rope trip” 2 bottom trailer plow with optional rubber tires on steel rims.

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’49 John Deere Model M Tractor

 

1949 John Deere Model M Tractor

Acquired August 2013

Produced from 1947-1952 the Two-Cylinder Letter Series Model “M” Tractor was new from the ground up and featured an innovative integrated farming systems approach. A total of 45,799, gasoline, 2-cylinder models were built.

The M had been in development for several years during World War II prior to its introduction in 1947. The M replaced the H, L, and LA models.

The new “Touch-O-Matic” hydraulic control system mounted in front of the seat enabled the operator to raise, lower and adjust implement depth with one-touch control. The one-person “Quik-Tatch” implement system provided fast, efficient hitching that rivaled, and in many cases surpassed, the efficiencies of the 3-point hitch. Operators simply had to back up to their integral implements, insert one or two bolts and drive away. A new adjustable air-cushion seat with backrest and adjustable steering wheel offered modern operator comforts.  PTO and electric starting were standard features.

Before this new tractor could become a reality, there were some challenges to overcome. First, in the midst of World War II, the U.S. War Production Board disallowed new product production in lieu of military production. Both the John Deere Waterloo and Moline factories lacked the capacity to handle the new line.  This prompted JD to acquire 750 acres in Dubuque, Iowa, to build a new factory. The new Dubuque Tractor Works opened in the fall of 1947.

The first John Deere Model “M” Tractor, serial number 10001, was shipped to the Arizona ranch of Charles Deere Wiman on April 1, 1947 at his request.

By the end of production in 1952, nearly 88,000 “M” Tractors – including variations such as the “MI,” “MT” and “MC”- would find their way to farms, fields, orchards, and construction sites.

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’58 John Deere 620 Tractor

 

1958 John Deere 620 Tractor

Acquired July 2014

Pictured here with a John Deere Model H Series 47 Manure Spreader.

 

Produced from 1956 to 1958 this, Two-Cylinder 20 Series Row-Crop tractor was powered by the famous JD 2-cylinder 4-valve liquid-cooled engine delivering 53 HP.

Factory: Waterloo, Iowa, USA.  Total built: 20,848

 

The 620 was the successor to the Model 60 and the biggest visible difference between them was the new, two-tone, green and yellow paint job, even though the design of the sheet metal is still the same as the Model 60.  The new “Float-Ride” seat was introduced on these tractors.

The engines were completely redesigned to provide more horsepower. It had a bore and stroke of 5 1/2 x 6 3/8 inches, 321 cid, 1125 rpm, 44.16 drawbar and 48.68 belt horsepower. Major changes were made to the Model 60 engine including: shorter stroke, aluminum pistons, larger rod and main bearings, a stronger crankshaft, redesigned cylinder head, and higher compression.  Another addition which made the engines run a bit smoother was the distributor was now driven directly off the camshaft instead of previously being driven through the governor. This was also incorporated on the 520 and 720.

The old Deere two cylinder tractors had fired on the compression and exhaust stroke. With the new camshaft driven distributor, they now only fired on the compression stroke which allowed longer point and spark plug life.

The 620 was available in the “rowcrop” front wheel configurations, the “Standard”, and also as a “Hi-Crop”.  The John Deere Model 620 tractor was a direct replacement for the 60, but it offered close to the same horsepower of the Model 70 at practically the same price. The 620 was advertised as a full 4 plow tractor with the power to handle heavy loads continuously at speeds that would cut days off a farmer’s work calendar.

Even with its advanced features and beautiful bright paint job, plus improved operator convenience, a new Model 620 was only about 100 dollars more than what a new Model 70 had cost.

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Portland Door Cutter Sleigh, (circa 1900)

 

Portland Door Cutter Sleigh, (circa 1900)

Cutters are considered light sleighs, usually pulled by one horse.  It is a distinctly American term that does not appear to have been used prior to 1800. The Cutter on display is a Portland style with two doors. Doors are unusual in Cutters and were a very late development, probably an influence of automobile designers.

This beautifully restored Portland Door Cutter, (circa 1850-1900) featuring longitudinal leaf springs for comfort and leather door panels with pockets for storage, was manufactured by the Wisconsin Carriage Co in Janesville, Wisconsin.  The chromed rein rail and side rails, refinished woodwork and comfortable interior, preserve a mode of winter transportation popular in late 1800’s and early 1900’s America.  Acquired by Ken Nagel in the fall of 2016 from a friend who used it as a display, the restoration and refurbishment was carried out at Nagel Farms by Francisco Reynoso. Extensive research ensured that the restoration was accurate and authentic.  Experts in paint, leather, upholstery and wood craftmanship were engaged to work on each phase of the project.

Established in 1885 the Lawrence Carriage Top Company, was a manufacturer of carriage tops, cushions, backs, and upholstery for buggies, wagons, and carriages.  By the early 1890’s, the company began to manufacture a complete line of horse-drawn vehicles of their own design and changed their name to the Wisconsin Carriage Company.

When automobiles became popular they manufactured spark plugs along with their carriages, sleighs and wagons. In 1908, the company began to manufacture an automobile known as the Wisco, but it was a failure and subsequently discontinued. Note: In the early 1900’s there were over 80 automobile manufactures operating in Wisconsin, including the inventors of the four-wheel drive.

The “Wisconsin Carriage Company,” had a reputation for building quality buggies, carriages, sleighs and Cutters but the increasing popularity of the automobile caused the company to cease horse drawn vehicle production in 1915.

A spinoff group, “Janesville Products Company” made coaster wagons, “skudder” cars and other sidewalk toys.  Their toys were sold by the thousands and gained a nationwide reputation.  The “Janesville Coaster Wagon” continues to be made today under the resurrected “Wisconsin Wagon Company” name.

Heavy snow made traveling in sleighs and Cutters a smoother ride than traveling in a wagon or buggy. But most sleighs were not covered, so the ride could be very cold. People kept warm by covering themselves with fur blankets and heavy coverlets called “lap robes.” Metal boxes filled with hot coals placed on the floor inside the vehicle served as foot warmers.

The sleigh described in the popular Christmas song, “Jingle Bells” is a Cutter.  Originally published in 1857 as “One Horse Open Sleigh” by James Pierport, “Jingle Bells”, captures a bygone America in which horses served an essential role in everyday life. The song immortalizes what were once common sights and sounds when snow turned the countryside into a real life wintery Currier & Ives print.  The ring of the bells on the “bobtail” trotter’s harness certainly made spirits bright. It was a custom and in some cases local law to drive with bells as a safety measure.

Pierport’s winter ditty was first popularized on records and the radio as a Christmas song in the 1940’s by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters’. The song is now a holiday classic sung around the world.

To this day, the delight of riding in a horse-drawn sleigh lifts the spirits of anyone lucky enough to sit behind the reins in a Cutter.   Sleigh rides remain an idyllic way to enjoy the wintry countryside, savor the brisk open air, and experience horsepower in its truest form.

Vehicle Specs:

Overall length: 76″

Width: 3’6″

Ground to seat height: 36″

Ground to dash height: 50″

Length of shafts: 7’5″

Width of shaft at crossbar: 35″

Width of shaft at shoulder: 20″

http://equestrianculture.com/custom_type/one-horse-open-sleigh/

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Four Passenger Four Wheel Phaeton Carriage

 

Four Passenger Four Wheel Phaeton Carriage

The Four Passenger Four Wheel Phaeton Carriage on display in Ken’s collection was acquired by Ken around 1976 from a restaurant owner in Plano, IL who used it as a lawn display in front of his restaurant.  At one time Ken had a driving horse that he used to pull the carriage.  It was great fun for the Nagel family to ride in the carriage in the Plano 4th of July parade dressed as characters from the TV show, The Little House on the Prairie.

Little is known about the history of Ken’s carriage other than that it was manufactured in Ottawa IL by a builder who is no longer in business.  In 2013 Ken had it refurbished.  All the leather was redone. The wood and iron fittings were repainted in their original black and red to withstand the weather.  Ken’s Phaeton features solid axel running gear front and rear, sprung with a transverse leaf spring in the front and a longitudinal leaf spring in the rear to soften and stabilize the ride.    Well-padded leather covered seats tufted with contrasting red buttons adorn the interior and provide a soft and comfortable ride.  Fenders over rear wheels help shield the passengers from road grime.  Large running wheels were necessary to negotiate the rough and unpaved wagon paths. Phaetons were often fitted with running light lanterns for night travel. Styles varied from the plain and simple to extravagant conveyances built by the most exclusive coach makers for Royal and wealthy clients.

Phaetons (also Phaéton) were a form of sporty open carriage popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Drawn by one or two horses, a phaeton typically featured a minimal, very lightly sprung body atop four extravagantly large wheels. With open seating, it was both fast and dangerous, giving rise to its name, drawn from the mythical Phaëton, son of Helios, who nearly set the earth on fire while attempting to drive the “chariot of the sun”.

The Carriage and Buggy were important modes of short-distance transportation and especially important between the years of 1815 and 1915. During that era, horseback riding in rural areas was less common and required more skill than driving.  Horsemanship skills were more for the aristocratic American and British landowners. Until mass-production of the automobile brought reasonable prices that the working-class could afford, a horse and buggy was the most common and reliable means of transportation.

With the advent of the automobile, the term “Phaeton” was adapted to open touring cars.  The automobile versions were often the most expensive and elaborate offerings from a manufacturer.  Most featured dual cowls with wind screens, canvass tops and side curtains to ensure the comfort of passengers in inclement weather.  They are among the most prized motorcars by serious collectors of early automobiles.

The era of the carriage and buggy in America is shorter than one might think.  It is easy to get the impression from movies and photographs that the common mode of transportation in early America was the horse and buggy and that seemingly everyone had one at their disposal.  Not exactly.  Nothing but crude carts and farm wagons were built in the “American colonies” until the mid-Eighteenth Century.

The most popular carriage of the early Nineteenth Century was the one-horse or road-wagon, later to be known as the buggy or runabout.  It was a time when The Industrial Revolution in America was spawning a moneyed carriage class and New York city was at its center.  By 1856 it was estimated that New Yorkers drove nearly 20,000 private fashionable carriages.  Manufactures of carriages and buggies numbered in the thousands producing at least 58 distinct types of horse drawn vehicles.

The Brewster Company of NY was the preeminent manufacturer of carriages and coaches for the rich and famous.  Their story in some ways illustrates the transition from horse drawn carriages to gasoline engine powered automobiles. In something less than 20 years (1896 -1916) automobile production surpassed horse drawn vehicle production.

A distinguished New Yorker once was asked for his opinion of the famous carriage building firm. Would you describe Brewster as “the Tiffany of the carriage business”? Not at all, he replied. “Rather, I would say that “Tiffany is the Brewster of the jewelry trade”, so magnificent and prestigious were their products.  Sadly, The Brewster Company no longer exists but Tiffany is alive and well next to Trump Tower in New York City.

At their peak of popularity, orders for custom carriages began to flow to Brewster in such quantity that the partners opened a new exclusive location across from the famous Delmonico’s restaurant.  Their immense prosperity is reflected in the firm’s client list that included the titans of industry: John Jacob Astor, J. Pierpont Morgan, J. R. Roosevelt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller and Presidents U. S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.

An order book entry in 1911 specified typical Brewster interior appointments: “a coat rail, memo book, cigarette case, scent bottle, mirror box, card cases, hat brush, flower vase and holder, watch, and rug.” The order was a harbinger of changing times as the adornments were meant for a bespoke automobile coach not a horse drawn one. The motorized age had overtaken Brewster & Company.  Carriage-making continued but only for a few diehards and volume was lessening with each year.

As Brewster forged ahead crafting incredible bodies designed to grace chassis supplied by some of the most exclusive automobile companies of the day, they initiated several automotive firsts that we take for granted today.  Among them were the roll-up window, the folding inside “jump” seat, the sloping windshield meant to deflect light from the driver’s eyes and the hinged sun visor. The company was still highly profitable as Brewster became an agent for the English Rolls Royce chassis.  The automobiles that emerged, one at a time, from the Brewster factory had the same impeccable mirror finish and unsurpassed craftsmanship as their carriages. But the future looked ominous. Even fine cars were being mass-produced now, at much lower prices.

William Brewster was an artist and an able craftsman, a rare combination. The ability to visualize a beautiful form and to create in it a mechanical masterpiece was the very life of the man. The assembly line was heartbreak to him.

“Willie had one last chance,” said Henry Brewster Hobson, his cousin and former chief engineer. He had an offer from Fisher to build bodies for General Motors on a production basis, but he just couldn’t do it. A body to him was not something that could be stamped out; it had to be felt, shaped and fashioned by human hands and carry some imprint of artistic creativeness with it and not be the predictable and inevitable outcome of an automatic machine. When Willie turned down the G.M. offer It was the end of the carriage era and the end of the Brewster Company. In 1925 Rolls Royce bought out the faltering Brewster Company.

Gradually the wagons and horses began to disappear from the landscape.  Having outlived their usefulness, wagons, carriages and buggies were often used as decorations, left to rot and rust in the back of farm lots or junked for their scrap value. Today these vehicle reminders of a by gone age are quite valuable.  In both original and restored condition, they are not only prized for their nostalgic connection to the rich heritage that made our country great and fueled its explosive growth, but are also valued by collectors and historical preservationists.

In a brief historical review of the transition from horse drawn transportation to motor driven vehicles it would be remiss not to mention the “engines” of the carriage and buggy era, the horses that supplied the get up and go.  Just as there is a wide variety of internal combustion engines that power modern automobiles there was a wide variety of driving horses bred to be harnessed to wagons, coaches, carriages and buggies. Driving horses have a more refined conformation than the heavy draft horse that allows them to offer greater speed and agility. They often have powerful shoulders and hindquarters combined with a strong, broad back and thick mane and tails combined with an amiable temperament.  Among the most popular breeds are:  Cleveland Bay, Frederiksborg, French Trotter, Friesian, Gelderland, Hackney, Holstein, Nonius and Orlov Trotter.

The horse population grew immensely and in parallel with the human population during the 1800s. In 1867, the rural horse population in America, estimated at nearly 8,000,000 grew to a peak of 26,493,000 in 1915, the year before automobile production overtook horse drawn vehicle production.  It is worth noting here that the population of the US in 1915 was about 100.5 million people.  If we were still a “horse and buggy” society today, with 350 million people our horse population would be close to 90 million.  Imagine feeding and disposing of the waste from 90 million 1,500 pound animals!  Certainly, posing a different kind of pollution problem than we face today.

As automobiles and trucks became the preferred modes of transportation and commerce through the 1920s, horses disappeared at the rate of about 500,000 a year until only about 3 million horses could be found in the United States by 1960.  Today the horse population in the US numbers about 6 million.  No longer dependent on them as beast of burden, they are cherished for the sheer pleasure they provide.

 

 

Sources:

Overview: The State of Animals in 2001, Paul G. Irwin

THE INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE HORSE – HISTORY

Great Northern Railway Company’s hospital for horses, Totteridge

http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/6DIRECTORY/AtoZEstab/Animals/LonTotSF.htm

U.S. Equine Population During Mechanization of Agriculture and Transportation

AMERICAN HERITAGE Harrison Kinney, October 1956

A chart of “Modern fashionable carriages and vehicles in general use,” 1893.

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End Spring Square Buggy

 

End Spring Square Box Buggy

Ken acquired this End Spring Square Box Buggy from Frank Coffman, his neighbor. Frank had been using it as a show piece in his front yard. Frank bought the buggy from a party in Sheridan Ill. Ken had the buggy restored in 2013. The seats and folding top are new. The wood and metal fittings were reconditioned and refinished with oil based outdoor paint.
Black leather button tufted cushions seat two. Solid axels front and rear are mounted to two transverse leaf springs front and rear for a comfortable if somewhat bouncy ride. Apparently, no one thought to dampen the springs with shock absorbers? The folding auto top served mostly to screen the sun as it provided little protection from rain or snow. The box is made of wood and has space for some cargo behind the passenger seat. Iron fittings and the frame for the folding top are painted black. The box is finished in a shade of rustic brown with cream colored accent decorations. The large spoke wheels are also finished in cream color with orange accented pin striping making for a very attractive appearance.

The business top buggy was used to transport one or two people The American buggy, whose general design evolved from an earlier pleasure wagon, became one of the most popular carriages of all time. It was a most common vehicle, popular in both town and country for shopping, business and pleasure riding. The name is synonymous with the Piano-Box Buggy except the Piano-Box Buggy has rounded corners.

Buggies are often confused with the “buckboard” wagon. Buckboards were meant to carry a greater cargo load than the lighter buggy. And as such, the main platform between axles is not suspended by springs like a carriage, instead they are connected directly to the box. Even though the driver’s seat was supported by springs, the configuration made for a very rough ride on all but the smoothest surfaces.

The Carriage and Buggy were important modes of short-distance transportation and especially important between the years of 1815 and 1915. During that era, horseback riding in rural areas was less common and required more skill than driving. Horsemanship skills were more for the aristocratic American and British landowners. Until mass-production of the automobile brought reasonable prices that the working-class could afford, a horse and buggy was the most common and reliable means of transportation.
The era of the carriage and buggy in America is shorter than one might think. It is easy to get the impression from movies and photographs that the common mode of transportation in early America was the horse and buggy and that seemingly everyone had one at their disposal. Not exactly. Nothing but crude carts and farm wagons were built in the “American colonies” until the mid-Eighteenth Century.

The most popular carriage of the early Nineteenth Century was the one-horse or road-wagon, later to be known as the buggy or runabout. It was a time when The Industrial Revolution in America was spawning a moneyed carriage class and New York city was at its center. By 1856 it was estimated that New Yorkers drove nearly 20,000 private fashionable carriages. Manufactures of carriages and buggies numbered in the thousands producing at least 58 distinct types of horse drawn vehicles.

The Brewster Company of NY was the preeminent manufacturer of carriages and coaches for the rich and famous. Their story in some ways illustrates the transition from horse drawn carriages to gasoline engine powered automobiles. In something less than 20 years (1896 -1916) automobile production surpassed horse drawn vehicle production.

A distinguished New Yorker once was asked for his opinion of the famous carriage building firm. Would you describe Brewster as “the Tiffany of the carriage business”? Not at all, he replied. “Rather, I would say that “Tiffany is the Brewster of the jewelry trade”, so magnificent and prestigious were their products. Sadly, The Brewster Company no longer exists but Tiffany is alive and well next to Trump Tower in New York City.

At their peak of popularity, orders for custom carriages began to flow to Brewster in such quantity that the partners opened a new exclusive location across from the famous Delmonico’s restaurant. Their immense prosperity is reflected in the firm’s client list that included the titans of industry: John Jacob Astor, J. Pierpont Morgan, J. R. Roosevelt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller and Presidents U. S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.

An order book entry in 1911 specified typical Brewster interior appointments: “a coat rail, memo book, cigarette case, scent bottle, mirror box, card cases, hat brush, flower vase and holder, watch, and rug.” The order was a harbinger of changing times as the adornments were meant for a bespoke automobile coach not a horse drawn one. The motorized age had overtaken Brewster & Company. Carriage-making continued but only for a few diehards and volume was lessening with each year.

As Brewster forged ahead crafting incredible bodies designed to grace chassis supplied by some of the most exclusive automobile companies of the day, they initiated several automotive firsts that we take for granted today. Among them were the roll-up window, the folding inside “jump” seat, the sloping windshield meant to deflect light from the driver’s eyes and the hinged sun visor. The company was still highly profitable as Brewster became an agent for the English Rolls Royce chassis. The automobiles that emerged, one at a time, from the Brewster factory had the same impeccable mirror finish and unsurpassed craftsmanship as their carriages. But the future looked ominous. Even fine cars were being mass-produced now, at much lower prices.

William Brewster was an artist and an able craftsman, a rare combination. The ability to visualize a beautiful form and to create in it a mechanical masterpiece was the very life of the man. The assembly line was heartbreak to him.

“Willie had one last chance,” said Henry Brewster Hobson, his cousin and former chief engineer. He had an offer from Fisher to build bodies for General Motors on a production basis, but he just couldn’t do it. A body to him was not something that could be stamped out; it had to be felt, shaped and fashioned by human hands and carry some imprint of artistic creativeness with it and not be the predictable and inevitable outcome of an automatic machine. When Willie turned down the G.M. offer It was the end of the carriage era and the end of the Brewster Company. In 1925 Rolls Royce bought out the faltering Brewster Company.

Gradually the wagons and horses began to disappear from the landscape. Having outlived their usefulness, wagons, carriages and buggies were often used as decorations, left to rot and rust in the back of farm lots or junked for their scrap value. Today these vehicle reminders of a by gone age are quite valuable. In both original and restored condition, they are not only prized for their nostalgic connection to the rich heritage that made our country great and fueled its explosive growth, but are also valued by collectors and historical preservationists.

In a brief historical review of the transition from horse drawn transportation to motor driven vehicles it would be remiss not to mention the “engines” of the carriage and buggy era, the horses that supplied the get up and go. Just as there is a wide variety of internal combustion engines that power modern automobiles there was a wide variety of driving horses bred to be harnessed to wagons, coaches, carriages and buggies. Driving horses have a more refined conformation than the heavy draft horse that allows them to offer greater speed and agility. They often have powerful shoulders and hindquarters combined with a strong, broad back and thick mane and tails combined with an amiable temperament. Among the most popular breeds are: Cleveland Bay, Frederiksborg, French Trotter, Friesian, Gelderland, Hackney, Holstein, Nonius and Orlov Trotter.

The horse population grew immensely and in parallel with the human population during the 1800s. In 1867, the rural horse population in America, estimated at nearly 8,000,000 grew to a peak of 26,493,000 in 1915, the year before automobile production overtook horse drawn vehicle production. It is worth noting here that the population of the US in 1915 was about 100.5 million people. If we were still a “horse and buggy” society today, with 350 million people our horse population would be close to 90 million. Imagine feeding and disposing of the waste from 90 million 1,500 pound animals! Certainly, posing a different kind of pollution problem than we face today.

As automobiles and trucks became the preferred modes of transportation and commerce through the 1920s, horses disappeared at the rate of about 500,000 a year until only about 3 million horses could be found in the United States by 1960. Today the horse population in the US numbers about 6 million. No longer dependent on them as beast of burden, they are cherished for the sheer pleasure they provide.

Sources:
Overview: The State of Animals in 2001, Paul G. Irwin
THE INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE HORSE – HISTORY
Great Northern Railway Company’s hospital for horses, Totteridge
http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/6DIRECTORY/AtoZEstab/Animals/LonTotSF.htm
U.S. Equine Population During Mechanization of Agriculture and Transportation
AMERICAN HERITAGE Harrison Kinney, October 1956
A chart of “Modern fashionable carriages and vehicles in general use,” 1893.

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