Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baby buggies and Doll carriages and things that tip when you roll them

From a flying stork

to a dog driven basket…whatever possessed a person to put a baby in a contraption with wheels?

Did they really think that a stork dropping a baby down a chimney was not traumatizing enough?

The reason my interest was peaked was because of the neat antique wicker baby doll carriage I resurrected from our attic. ( which was sold and photographed below)

Bringing the old with the very new in the most adorable photo by a wonderful photographer  DeeLee Photography, Yes, this is the same carriage that was used over 100 years ago! And as you can see the wonderful Karma it brings with this has soothed another sweet child! Special thanks to Danielle and her eye that caught this on my etsy site and had it shipped across country to photograph this lovely child and many more. Special thanks to OopsIKnitItAgain who made this adorable blanket and hat!!


Wicker antique baby carriages of the 1880s and 1890s came about during the Civil War years and this one probably dates in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

And so it began…

(What is so interesting about about these things that kept babies quiet and little girls playing happily with their dolls?….)

HOW did it all start?

The story goes that originally there was a bath chair or invalid chair that could transport and invalid or child. It had three wheels . The reason they only had three wheels was because 4 wheeled vehicles were only meant to be on the road...Yup…. babies and invalids would tend to fall out of these early inventions...You get the picture ....

William Kent, a garden architect from England, designed the first known baby carriage for the third Duke of Devonshire in 1733. Kent created the baby carriage in the shape of a shell that a baby could sit in.
It was decorated with a snake design and used a harness to be pulled by a goat. It also was designed with springs so that the Dukes children could ride in comfort. At that time carriages and prams were designed as miniature horse-drawn carriages. They were built to be pulled by dogs or ponies instead of by parents.

BUT........ IN 1848 on an even more thoughtful note,Charles Burton designed and built a unique three-wheeled vehicle for his wife to use with their newborn son. God Bless him because although it was the wife’s job to take care of the children when it was not possible to pay for help, most men would not have given it another thought. This contraption he invented was called a pushable carriage and it caused quite a stir along the promenade at New York City's Battery Park because it had a handle and you could push instead of being reliant on a dog or goat.

And then came Queen Victoria at a time when royalty set the fashions standards....

In comparison, we have Oprah, When she starts a trend EVERYONE wants to be in on it

In the 1840s the baby carriage experienced its first big break. Thanks to the Queen for buying 3 push-style baby carriages for 4 guineas each from the Hitchings Baby Stores of Ludgate Hill it ensured that by the following year anyone who wanted to be part of high society had a baby carriage to push their children around in. Reminds me of Oprah’s book club..Always a best seller when she puts her stamp of approval on it.

As with the hatpin debacle, the first prams (perambulators to British parents, or pram for short) and carriages were banned from public footpaths. Several women were prosecuted for pushing their babies on these public walking areas, but the law eventually decided that new mothers with baby carriages didn’t pose enough of a safety risk to be persecuted. Many policemen turned their head to that law because it would seem very hard hearted to prosecute a woman and a baby.

YOU need a license???

IN 1888 they had to have licenses in Germany before they could take their baby out in a pram.You had to show the license should you be stopped and you had to drive it on the right side of the sidewalk. I am sure if the QUEEN was doing the walking that law would never have even come to light.

The Victorian woman was passionately concerned for proper ventilation and cleanliness. Social books such as Rules of Conduct for Polite Society stressed that one should celebrate with nature. Infatuation for nature was seen everywhere and enthusiastically brought indoors.

And as with most inventions… There came a better model…

On June 18, 1889, William H. Richardson walked into a Baltimore patent office with an idea that forever changed the baby carriage.His plan was for a baby carriage that used a unique joint to allow a bassinet to be turned to face the mother or face away as in conventional prams of the day. In essence, he created the first reversible baby carriage. And a mother’s fulfillment in showing off her beautiful children.

Strolls thru the park were social events and the Victorian’s loved to meet with people and show off their wealth. This type of carriage acted a almost like a moveable throne for displaying an infant. A woman could not proudly advertise her position as a mother without her little ones at her side. This type of baby carriage ensured her child was presented prominently facing passers-by rather than facing herself, demonstrating to all around her that she was a successful wife and mother.

Through its soothing capabilities as well as restraints, an ideal Victorian mother could also be assured that a carriage would help control her baby in public, an important expectation for Victorian-era children. While parents of the late nineteenth century were instructed to embrace their children's youthful and carefree behavior to an extent, they were likewise expected to instill structure and refinement in their children from a very early age.

Catalog shopping!

Each year as spring rejoiced, the companies' arrival of carriage catalogs would sweetly seduce the Victorian mother with irresistible offers of the latest carriage styles. The Victorian woman was already familiar with the advantages American wicker offered. Wicker was both durable and lightweight. Its airy appearance increased a feeling of union with nature, and yet pleased her eye. Lightweight wicker could be transferred from the parlor to the veranda, porch or yard as warm days drew near. Easy to clean, cleanliness next to Godliness, this Victorian motto easily reinforced the affair with wicker.

In 1876, wicker furniture was included in the arts and crafts category at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Awards were presented to the Wakefield Rattan Company for design and workmanship. Trial and error of the past decade led to the company producing a quality art form, their craftsman highly skilled. Duly noted also for proper ventilation, an awareness of nature, Wicker was satisfying the Victorian concerns!

With so many companies competing for the carriage trade, thousands were provided employment. To complete a carriage required three days of 12 to 14 hours. The hand process was slow and tedious, however, it enabled carriages from the golden era to survive today. SO I feel lucky to have this one!

Sleeper carts provided a device for lowering and adjusting the back into a comfortable reclining position, with the footrest raising automatically. Carriages were built on spring frames that provided a gentle ride and allowed the carriage to rock a fussy babe to sleep. Go carts were strong runabouts suitable for a baby eight months or older. Rolled arms and roomy interior with a push handle, these versatile carriages could be ordered with or without parasol. For the Sears Roebuck and Company, their jewel was the Go Cart Sleeper offered at $6.98 in late 1880.


No.. Not these

The Heywood Brothers produced twin carriages in 1880 in limited quantities. Twins would sit, one at each end, facing each other riding in style with matching parasols overhead emitting an air of grandeur. For an extra $2, Heywood offered in their catalogs runners that would turn any of their carriages into baby sleighs.

To distinguish them from their competitors, many manufacturers proudly gave their carriages names, Victoria, Daisy and Baby Bunting for the girls, Sir Arthur for the boys. Arch rivals, Wakefield and Heywood would merge to become the largest, wicker carriage producer. Companies, to further entice customers, offered to pay freight to their closet railroad station for an order of $10 or more. Bountiful, fetching carriage styles, continued to enchant customers. Carriages could be ordered in stain or varnish of choice - cherry, oak, mahogany or clear. Gold leaf could be richly applied to the carriage body and gears for an additional fee.

What no steering?

They were hard to turn and navigate until up until Richardson’s carriage allowed for the wheels to turn individually which meant that the vehicle could turn 360 degrees in a much smaller turning radius.

Spoil the child...

Other accessories that became available included a mosquito net, an adjustable umbrella stand, and a spare wheel.

Interior upholstery was made available in soft silk, tapestry, damask, velour or broadcloth in lush colors of sapphire, cardinal, golden brown, myrtle and more. Parasols that could be hooked on the back or side were offered in silk or satin; ruffles, lace edging, bows and ribbons completed the beautiful packaging

The original date of the Doll carriage...

Nobody can determine when exactly carriages for dolls started to be in use, though between 1853 and 1880, someone in the Frampton Pram Factory probably made one for his child. Doll prams are, after all, logical continuation of playing with dolls.

Little girls were given toy wicker carriages coaxing them to mimic mother. Young girls into their teens played at housekeeping for marriage was the ultimate goal. Wicker manufacturers were ever willing to oblige, making toy carriages in every style and shape.

FINALLY>> They worried wether the child would live to tell of this bumpy ride..

When World War One drew to a close just before 1920, the ensuing baby boom opened the market for baby carriages to all but the poorest families. It was during this time that the issue of safety really took hold for baby carriage designers, and over the next several years some very important modifications were added.

Footbrakes became a standard feature on all baby prams and carriages. The baskets on prams were deepened so that children would have a more difficult time escaping from them. Also, most carriages were lowered, so that any child resourceful enough to get out of their basket would have a shorter trip to the ground below. Several designs were used in the twenties and thirties, but eventually the high sided, large wheeled carriage that we still see today became the norm in baby carriage design.

Aesthetically, rubber and plastic parts became more common on prams and buggies, replacing the old wicker and wood models of earlier years. Chrome also became more prevalent, starting with basic chromium plated joints used to replace expensive brass ones and later moving to every exposed piece of metal.

So to end on a very positive note... each carriage that has survived over all these years carries with it the wonder of a child as he or she rode loving with his mother or nanny at his side. And each daughter, mimicking her mother would push her doll or bear in one that looked just like the one she rode in when she was small.The innocence of youth and the spirit of a child will always bring with it a warmth and charm that never goes away.

Put a little vintage sparkle back in your life

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