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Downing & Son Concord-style mail coach

Description:

A fully restored 1851 Concord-style mail coach, this vehicle carried mail between White River Junction and the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont. An inscription inside the door-"Chet Adams, No. 87 1851, Emerson Milling on side"-refers to Chet Adams, a builder for Lewis Downing. Lewis S. Downing and partner J. Stephen Abbott of Concord, New Hampshire, built the Concord coaches. The coaches were built in six, nine, and twelve-passenger sizes (not counting passengers who rode on the roof when the coach was full). The mail was typically carried in a space under the driver's seat; baggage rode on the top rack or in the rear compartment. Concord-style mail coaches were used in the United States well into the early 1900s.

The Abbott Downing Company achieved international fame for its well-crafted and sturdy stagecoaches. Elegantly painted in bright colors and decorated with oil paintings on the doors, the fancy-looking vehicles withstood the rough and rugged roads of the eastern United States. On the other hand, on western roads it was a different matter entirely. The well-designed Concord was often no match for the frontier's rutted and muddy trails. The glass windows, for instance, were not practical for models traversing the American West. Eastern roads, while not particularly good, were smooth compared to crude western roads. A one-day journey along a western overland mail trail would be enough to shatter all the windows.

After twenty years in business together, Abbott and Downing parted amicably. Downing continued to build Concord coaches. The two companies merged again in 1865, when Lewis Downing, Jr. and the J.S. and E.A. Abbott Company formed the Abbott-Downing Company. The company manufactured coaches, wagons, and carriages under that name until 1919.

Date:
1851-1890s
Markings:
White River Junction Woodstock / U.S.Mail (White River Junction Woodstock on panel above door and windows both sides; U.S.Mail at top door frame both sides)
Medium:
wood; metal; glass; leather
Dimensions:
Height x Width x Depth: 113 3/4 x 87 x 160 in. (288.93 x 220.98 x 406.4 cm)
Museum ID:
1990.0619.1
Place:
Vermont

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