Paint Your Wagon

The Matchless No. 35, Hughes Buggy Company catalog, Frederick County (Va.) Chancery Cause Columbia Wagon Co. vs. John G. Crisman & Co., etc., 1903-058, Local Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

A chancery case from Frederick County looked like any other business dispute except for a unique item presented as an exhibit. Columbia Wagon Company vs. John G. Crisman & Company, etc., 1903-058, involved the bankruptcy of the Crisman Company and the efforts of its creditors to collect on the debts owed them. One of the many parties involved in the case submitted an exhibit of their showroom catalog of wagons and carriages. The Hughes Buggy Company’s catalog reads like a modern day sale brochure by any major auto company selling a Ford Fusion or Honda Civic. The wagons listed in the Hughes Buggy catalog have their own unique names and descriptions for their particular style. “The Physicians’ Phaeton” was a canopy covered carriage with large wheels having “1 inch tread” supporting its carriage described as ideally suited for the traveling doctor making house calls. The catalog offered customized color options with purchase of this new buggy.

Another style called “The Matchless No. 35” implies the manufacturing quality and customer appeal was second to none:

“This wagon is without a doubt the most popular vehicle built in the United States today.  Every single item of material and workmanship is positively the very best that can be procured.  Every known improvement is substituted in this carriage without additional cost.

The price includes Fnenuatic Tires, Wire Wheels, Bailey Hangers, Bailey Shackles, Ball Bearing Axles, and Bailey Fifth Wheels.  The gear known as “naked construction” is so positively made that it could not be improved upon if we were paid twice the price.

If desired this wagon can be made with panel seat and full leather top with an additional cost.”

The catalog was a charming surprise and stands out in a court case of receivership and debt settlements; additionally, it shows a view of the marketing of transportation from another era.  Horse-drawn carriages or buggies and wagons have continued their appeal today and are available for rent for special occasions. Also, the name Phaeton is used to describe a particularly sleek and stylish looking modern day carriage built by Volkswagen!

A portion of the Hughes Buggy Company’s catalog is available here on Out of the Box. The entirety of the catalog can be viewed along with the rest of the chancery cause,  Columbia Wagon Company vs. John G. Crisman & Company, etc., 1903-058, which is part of the Frederick County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1860-1912, available online through the Chancery Records Index. The catalog appears in images 447-460.

-Joanne Porter, Local Records Archivist

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