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
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