The Carriage Trade: Making Horse-Drawn Vehicles in America

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JHU Press, Sep 8, 2004 - History - 381 pages
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In 1926, the Carriage Builders' National Association met for the last time, signaling the automobile's final triumph over the horse-drawn carriage. Only a decade earlier, carriages and wagons were still a common sight on every Main Street in America. In the previous century, carriage-building had been one of the largest and most dynamic industries in the country. In this sweeping study of a forgotten trade, Thomas A. Kinney extends our understanding of nineteenth-century American industrialization far beyond the steel mill and railroad. The legendary Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company in 1880 produced a hundred wagons a day—one every six minutes. Across the country, smaller factories fashioned vast quantities of buggies, farm wagons, and luxury carriages. Today, if we think of carriage and wagon at all, we assume it merely foreshadowed the automobile industry. Yet., the carriage industry epitomized a batch-work approach to production that flourished for decades. Contradicting the model of industrial development in which hand tools, small firms, and individual craftsmanship simply gave way to mechanized factories, the carriage industry successfully employed small-scale business and manufacturing practices throughout its history.

The Carriage Trade traces the rise and fall of this heterogeneous industry, from the pre-industrial shop system to the coming of the automobile, using as case studies Studebaker, the New York–based luxury carriage-maker Brewsters, and dozens of smallerfirms from around the country. Kinney also explores the experiences of the carriage and wagon worker over the life of the industry. Deeply researched and strikingly original, this study contributes a vivid chapter to the story of America's industrial revolution.


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Rich Mens Vehicles at Poor Mens Prices The Development of a Trade and Its Products
Knights of the Draw Knife The Craft Origins of HorseDrawn Vehicle Manufacture
From Shop to Factory The Industrialization of a Trade
The Coming of Parts Specialty Manufacturing in the Wagon and Carriage Industry
An Empire of Taste The Brewster Carriage Dynasty
A Wagon Every Six Minutes The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company
From Craftsman to Assembler? Industrialization and the Wagon and Carriage Worker
That Damned Horseless Carriage American Carriage Makers Respond to the Automobile
Hail and Farewell
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About the author (2004)

Thomas A. Kinney is an associate professor of history at Bluefield College in Virginia.

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