Victorian Horse Carriages

Horse Carriage

The Well-Appointed Victorian Carriage


At the end of the nineteenth century, the affluent Victorian lady took a great interest in the appointments and accessories of her horse carriage. Horse carriage manufacturers catered to this attention by providing a variety of linings and extravagant fittings to help the society woman through her day of calling, shopping, and other engagements.


Victorian Carriage

Horse carriages used for every day purposes were generally lined with a dark color. Some women carried out the color of their livery and carriages in the lining. For instance, if the livery was dark blue with light trimmings, the horse carriage-linings were of dark blue. Red was not used as often in the late nineteenth century. Leather, cloth, felt, and sometimes corduroy were used — of course of the best quality.

Horse Carriage

Image: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-00328


Many of the smaller horse carriages — Victorias, Spider Phaetons, and open-traps — were designed in light cloths, although leather was considered just as smart. Fashion dictated that light gowns with the light cloths looked particularly well.

This magnificent example of antique carriage clocks features hand-painted porcelain panels. The final bid for this antique carriage clock at auction was $12,500.
horse carriage

Image: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-105024


Every well-appointed brougham had a small mirror at one side of it — a mirror large enough to see how the hair and hat looked; but in addition to this mirror there was also a small hand-mirror in a carriage case that was attached to the front or the side of the vehicle.

Studebaker carriage

The Studebaker horse carriage had "fine hand-buffed leather throughout" with trimmings in "English cloth or Morocco-finished leather."

Horse Carriage

Image: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-00329

Carriage Case



Horse Carriage Case from Harper's Bazaar, 1890.


These carriage cases were very complete; they were made to take up as little space as possible, and were large enough to hold two bottles, the visiting list, the social register, the engagement pad, the pencil, and some paper and envelopes. Of course the case could be either simple or elaborate, as preferred. As a rule, it was made of the best quality of leather, and in a dark blue or black. It had the coat of arms or monogram in silver on the outside of the case, and every article that belonged therein was finished in the same way with a miniature coat of arms or monogram in silver. Some horse carriages had this done in silver gilt, but it was considered to have a "second-rate look." The bottles in the deluxe carriage cases were typically of cut glass with sterling silver tops.

Quinby horse carriage
The Quinby horse carriage was for "the wealthy and fashionable people of New York."

The visiting card case, finished the same as the carriage case, was only large enough to accommodate the stylish, but small, visiting cards. In addition to the card case, there were two compartments arranged, one for men's cards and one for women's, so that there would be no difficulty in selecting the appropriate calling card when the call was to be made. There was always a little clock in the carriage case, and generally the card case had a little clock in it as well. There was never a great deal of time in the short winter afternoons to go through a long list of calls, and the woman who had her watch where she could see it generally saved many precious minutes.

Horse Carriage
Image: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-04318
Studebaker Spider Phaeton

The Studebaker Spider Phaeton horse carriage was a "handsome and stylish vehicle for pleasure driving." Its trimmings were cloth or French goat-skin in blue, green, or maroon with painting to match.


Leather-top PhaetonThe luxurious private horse carriage of the late 1890s had no need of artificial heat; every well-appointed horse carriage had its foot muff or its foot pillows with a heater inside for the hot water bottle, which was an absolute necessity. The lap robes that were used for winter traveling were of the very finest furs, or, if expense was considered, there were plush robes lined and finished exactly like the fur ones. There were also cloth robes for warmer weather, made in the same color as the linings of the carriage or the livery, and embroidered with the monogram of the owner.