Feltons Carriages 1794

William Felton was a coach builder at the end of the 18th century. Writing 10 years before the elliptic spring was invented (which would transform transport), he wrote “A Treatise on Carriages . . . “ which was published in 1794. Road surfaces in England were improving so carriages were displacing the clumsy vehicles of earlier days. The Prince Regent and his friends started the fashion for driving, so horse and carriage became prized possessions where formerly they were just a means of conveyance. Town Coaches and Chariots were used for official or social occasions; Landaus and Sociables for less formal occasions and driving; owner-driven carriages and Phaetons were for driving to race meetings and town and country pursuits. British workmanship was valued abroad; carriages were exported to Europe and across the Atlantic to the West Indies and America. All these vehicles were built very high with two types of under-carriage: “perch” being a straight or slightly curved supporting wooden beam joining the axles and “crane-neck”, comprising two iron beams, curved, under which the front wheels could turn making the vehicle more flexible. Alan Osbahr selected 12 of Mr. Felton’s carriages to reconstruct in richly coloured lithographic imagery shown here, many of which contain quantities of gold and silver.

The prints measure 38 cm wide x 26 cm high (14 ″ x 10 ¼ ″). Minor variation in size is possible based on the actual guillotine cut made by the printer over 50 years ago. Shown here are photographs which have been carefully corrected to remove most distortion. Published in 1962 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited, London; drawn by Alan Osbahr.

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