Prior to 1850, fine carriage building in New York was mostly confined to
the Fourteenth and Fifteenth wards, with the Elizabeth St. houses of
Flandrau, Goodwin, Stratton and Fielding being at its center. At that time
William Flandrau of 138 Elizabeth St., at the corner of Broome, was
considered by most to be Manhattan’s leading manufacturers of fine
William J. Flandrau (b.1797-d.1881) was from New Rochelle, New York, a
town originally settled in 1688 by French Huguenots who were fleeing the
Catholic pogroms in France. Many of the settlers were artisans and craftsmen
from the city of La Rochelle, France, thus influencing the choice of the
name of New Rochelle.
As a teenager Flandrau moved to Manhattan as a carriage-builder’s
apprentice and after working for a number of that city’s great purveyors of
the trade, established his own works at 6 Grand St.
On Friday, June 25, 1824 the New York Post announced his June 18th, 1824
marriage to Jane Payntz (b.1804-d.1891), the daughter of William Payntz of
New York. By 1829 he had relocated to 109 Spring St. where he remained in
the trade for the next decade. He moved to 138 Elizabeth St. in 1839 and
soon afterward purchased 136 Elizabeth St. for his home.
His blessed union with Jane resulted in the birth of eight children:
Charles H. Flandreau (b.1822-d.1826); Ann Eliza Flandrau (b.1826-d.1880);
William Flandrau jr. (b.1832-d.1907) (aka William H. Flandrau); Albert S.
Flandrau (b.1835-d.1874); Emeline Flandrau (b.1837-d.1861); Edgar Flandrau
(b.1840-d.1881); Charles T. Flandrau (b.1843-d.1875); Jane L. Flandrau
(b.1847-d.1854); and Frank Flandrau (b.1852-d.1852).
In the mid-1840s the two eldest Flandrau boys, William and Albert,
apprenticed to their father and in 1852 established their own satellite
branch in the style of W. & A.S. Flandrau at 240-250 Ninth Ave. (at W 26th
In 1857 the pair were awarded a diploma for a trotting buggy they had
entered into competition at the American Institute of the City of New York.
Like his father, William was most proficient at the coachbuilders art while
Albert’s expertise was in the art of the deal. The firm of W. & A.S.
Flandrau was short-lived and in 1859 Albert S. left and established a small
brokerage house at 60 Wall St. Albert was also involved in community affairs
and was listed as a director of the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA),
New York City chapter
William jr. returned to his father’s employ, remaining at 250 Ninth Ave.,
as the structure was still leased by his father. By now his two younger
brothers, Charles F. and Edgar Flandrau, had joined him in the family’s
carriage business, which continued to operate two separate facilities, the
original establishment at 138 Elizabeth St., and the satellite manufactory
at 240-250 Ninth Ave.
During the Civil War business was good for the house of Flandrau,
although Albert S. Flandrau’s foray into stock & bonds was short-lived and
at war’s end he was working for the Wood Bros. Co. as a carriage salesman at
their 596 Broadway repository. He also spent some time working for Brewster
of Broome St. after which he operated his own warerooms in the style of A.S.
Flandrau & Co. at No. 7 & No. 18 East 18th St. (between 5th Ave and
Broadway). Assisting him in that enterprise were Daniel T. Wilson, an
experienced carriage builder, and Seth C. Keyes, a wealthy Manhattan
ready-to-wear garment manufacturer.
At the end of the Civil War William Flandrau moved his household to 116 W
26th St., in order to be closer to his 250 Ninth Ave. carriage factory.
136-138 Elizabeth St. was sold to St. Matthews Lutheran Church in 1868 who
raised the aged structure to make way for construction of a new sanctuary.
St. Matthews remained at the corner of Broome and Elizabeth Sts. until 1913
when the congregation moved to W. 145th St. & Convent Ave. The former
Flandrau property was sold to the Knickerbocker Ice Co., who raised it and
erected a new building to house their ice factory.
By 1870 William Jr., Charles F. and Edgar Flandrau had relocated their
Ninth St. wareroom and factory from 250 Ninth Ave. to 280 Ninth Ave. William
Flandrau (Sr.) also relocated his residence from 116 W 26th St to 160 W.
26th. William Sr. was considered one of the grand old builders of Manhattan
and served as judge for the American Institute’s 1870 carriage and sleigh
The September 1870 issue of the NY Coach Makers Magazine included a small
A.S. Flandrau item:
“We were shown to-day the ‘Carriage of the Period.’ This is a basket pony
phaeton, of a new style, made popular under the above title by A. S.
Flandrau, carriage-builder, of Eighteenth street, who introduced this
vehicle at the beginning of the present season. Jay Gould, Esq., drives one
at Newport. Mrs. Hoey has one at Long Branch, and as Mr. Flandrau has sold
already over one hundred of them, they, doubtless, can be seen at all our
Business for A.S. Flandrau & Co. increased during the early 1870s and
when Brewster & Co. (Brewster of Broome St.) relocated to the corner of
Broadway and 47th Street in 1874, Flandrau & Co. leased their old 372-374
Broome St., six-story, manufactory. The firm was sometime listed at 75 Mott
Just as they were set to open, Albert S. Flandrau suddenly and
unexpectedly passed away. The two remaining partners decided to continue the
business under their own names, Keyes & Wilson, as successors to A.S.
Flandrau & Co.
Daniel T. Wilson (b.1854-d.1937) was born in Brooklyn, New York, May 28,
1854, the son of Benjamin Woodward and Elizabeth Ann Wilson. He received is
early education at public school, Moravian School and at Nazareth Hall
Military Academy, Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After which he became associated
with Albert S. Flandrau, as shop foreman.
Seth Cromwell Keyes (b.1821-d.1893) was a most interesting character. He
was born to John Banker and Jean Marie Allaire Keyes on Feb 9, 1821. His
minister father was a veteran of the War of 1812 and founder of the DeKalb
Ave. Methodist Church in Brooklyn, New York.
Seth C. Keyes and his brothers traveled to San Francisco at the start of
the gold rush, but wisely chose to engage in the garment industry, and made
a small fortune selling ready-to-wear clothes
By 1850 Seth and his brother William Edgar had established two competing
firms on San Francisco’s Clay St. Seth’s firm, located at 195 Clay, was
known as Keyes & Co.’s Golden Gate Clothing Store, William Edgar’s, located
at 178 Clay was known as Keyes Original Clothing Emporium.
The Keyes Brother’s ready-to-wear garments were all manufactured in their
Manhattan factory which was located at 833 Broadway. A period ad in the San
Francisco newspapers advertised; “$100,000 stock in the very latest styles.”
The pair increased their fortune by supplying Union troops with clothing and
blankets, and in 1861-1862 Seth served as an official Army clothing
inspector for Col Vinton.
He had his hand in a number of Manhattan businesses, including the W.H.
Brady & Co., a commission broker located at 609 Broadway. He was directly
involved in a scandal involving the later US President’s wife, Mary Lincoln.
In 1867 Mary Lincoln, who had been left with no cash resources when her
husband, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated, began secretly disposing of her
wardrobe and jewelry to drum up some much-needed cash. While in disguise she
brought a lot of jewelry and dresses to W.H. Brady & Co., a commission
broker at 609 Broadway. After some haggling over price Brady's partner, Seth
C. Keyes, spotted Mrs. Lincoln's name inside one of the rings and the deal
was quickly closed.
In order to garner some publicity for the firm Brady & Keyes released the
news to the Democratic New York Press who had a field day with the resulting
scandal of the “destitute ex-First Lady, who had been abandoned by the
Republican Party”. To make matters worse the Brady & Keyes then organized a
multi-city tour of the “First Lady’s Jewels and Wardrobe”.
Keyes was well-known to Albert S. Flandrau as he had purchased a number
of carriages through him and was only too happy to invest when Flandrau
decided to expand his carriage business.
The following is a representative pre-visitation letter sent to the firm
by wealthy Westchester County banker Marx Wintjen:
“January 1, 1871
A. S. Flandrau
New York City, New York
I am writing to you to order one of your excellent vehicles
because I know that they are “warranted for one year on the road and six
months on the pavement.” I am interested in a carriage for my wife that
could be driven by our coachman or by myself when I accompany her on
outings. Since the vehicle will be driven in all kinds of weather, I would
like the versatility to convert the carriage to an open-air vehicle for the
family. There should be four comfortable and elegant seats. I am very
concerned with creating a vehicle of pleasing and continuous lines and I
therefore request that the steps be unobtrusive. Since my wife will be using
the carriage to make calls, I would like to include a calling card case,
elegant curtains, and fine detailing. Remember that this is a city vehicle
and maneuverability is important. My wife asks that I remind you of the
fact that she adores gold striping.
I look forward to prompt delivery.
With Keyes’ deep pockets the two partners spared no expense and within
the year had released a magnificent 103pp illustrated catalog entitled: “A.
S. Flandrau Illustrated Catalogue of Various Carriages in Popular Use.”
A small news item/advertisement from the December 22, 1877, New York
“A.S. Flandrau & Co. carry on the business of carriage-making at Nos. 372
and 374 Broome street, which is the famous old stand of Brewster & Co. The
atmosphere of the place is favorable to good, sound work, and Flandrau & Co.
do it. They have a large line of broughams, landaus, coupes, landaulets,
Berlin coaches, Rockaways, &c., which the offer at reasonable prices. All
the fashionable styles and the newest and best things in carriage building
may be seen in the work they turn out.”
When P.T. Barnum’s star attraction made a tour of Europe in 1878, he rode
in a Flandrau carriage NY Times. From the April 3, 1878, New York Times:
“There is now on exhibition at A.S. Flandrau & Co.’s, No. 372 and 374
Broome St, a carriage built for Gen. Tom Thumb and wife, to be used during
their European tour. It is a Berlin style of landau, with leather top, and
weighs only 310 pounds.”
William J. Flandrau, the founder of the Flandrau carriage empire, passed
away in 1881 at the age of 83. Sadly his three youngest sons: Albert S.,
Charles F., and Edgar, all talented carriage artisans, had preceded him in
death. Jane Flandrau, his widow, died in 1891 and his eldest son, William
Jr., would be the only member of the family that lived long enough to see
the advent of the automobile as he passed away in 1907.
The June 23, 1882 New York Times announced the lease of an adjacent
Broome St. property:
“A. S. Flandrau & Co. announce the addition to their repository of the
large six-story building; No. 376 Broome street. The wareroom contains
nearly two acres of floors, all of which are covered with carriages in all
colors and every variety of trimming and finish. All the known styles, from
the stately landau for the Park to the featherweight for the flyers of the
road, may be found in large numbers at their repository. Nos. 372, 374, 378
Numerous copies of the first Flandrau catalog were distributed and one of
them apparently attracted the attention of a certain resident of the White
House in Washington D.C. The May 10, 1885 New York Times described the
“The new landau and harness manufactured by A. S. Flandrau Co., of this
city, for President Cleveland, was delivered in Washington on Thursday last
by Mr. Seth C. Keyes, senior member of the firm. The landau is valued at
$1,500 and the harness at $500. The President’s directions that everything
should be as plain as possible, but of the finest material and workmanship,
were faithfully followed. The door handles are covered with rubber, and the
mountings of the harness are of rubber, edged with silver, which was an
original design by the President.”
A second vehicle, a Victoria delivered to the President later that summer
was described in the August 18, 1885 edition of the New York Times:
“Carriages For the White House.
“Out of the many skilled builders of carriages in the United States the
house of Messrs. A. S. Flandrau & Co. of No 372 Broome-street, this city,
were called upon to supply vehicles for the use of the Executive and his
family. Those were a landau and a Victoria, both severely simple and
unostentatious in style, but of the most perfect workmanship and finish. The
landau is full-sized, leather-topped, and extremely plain. The entire
carriage is painted dark green and the upholstering, of the same color, is
of the finest of materials, while the ornamentation is of the simplest
character, the lamps and handles being finished in black rubber with a thin
silver band about the edge.
“The Victoria is of the same modest design and is regarded in Washington
as the embodiment of good taste and neatness. The harness, which was also
designed by Messrs. A.S. Flandrau & Co., is mounted with black rubber and
trimmed with silver, the only ornament it bears being a modest ‘G. C.’ in
monogram on the rosette of the bridle.
"Altogether the turnout is one of the finest and most tasteful seen on
“The offices and storerooms of Messrs. A. S. Flandrau & Co are at No.
372, 374, and 376 Broome-street, in a seven-story building, whose dimensions
are as follows; front, 70 feet, depth, 100 feet: and this is literally
filled from basement to roof with carriages of every size, style, and
description. On one floor, which is devoted to coupe Rockaways, are stowed
away more of these comfortable conveyances than we ever saw under one roof.
On the same floor also is a design to a cutter sleigh on which three men
have boon working for a year. On another floor there is in process of
construction a brougham of handsome design which combines with its
simplicity a perfection of style and workmanship that lies beyond praise. It
is rumored that this, vehicle is also designed for the White House.
“Messrs. A.S. Flandrau & Co., unlike most other builders of carriages in
the city, turn out in their factories all manner of vehicles, extended
mention of which cannot here be given. They include, however, handsome
conveyances for the city, and wagons for fast driving, trotting wagons of
phenomenal lightness, dogcarts of unique design and calculated for any sort
of service, rough and ready carriages for rough country use, and, in a word,
everything conceivable in the way of carriages.”
The November 26, 1885 New York Times reported on the firm’s success at
that year’s New York Horse Show:
“Medals At The Horse Show
“A.S. Flandrau Co., of Broome street, have been awarded four silver
medals for the display of fine carriages made by them at the horse show
lately held at the Madison-Square Garden. One medal was for a light
brougham, weighing only 725 pounds; one for a stylish dog cart, with body of
flowered ash; one for a single road wagon combining strength, lightness, and
beauty of finish, and for a double road wagon to carry two persons.”
A.S. Flandrau was listed as an intending exhibitor at the American
Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures, Products and Resources of the United
States which was held in London England in 1886.
The March 17, 1891 edition of the New York Times announced the opening of
their new showroom which was located on West 51st St. between Seventh Ave.
and Broadway, which at that time was the heart of Manhattan’s carriage row:
“A Grand Show of Carriages. – Opening of New Warerooms at Broadway and
“That old-established carriage firm which is still known as Flandrau Co.,
although the firm is really Keyes & Wilson, has found its establishment at
372, 374, and 376 Broom Street too small to accommodate its growing trade
and has opened a branch store, to be used especially for show rooms, at
Fifty-first Street and Broadway.
“The former occupants of the building were Messrs. Lowden & Rutherford,
also carriage makers, whose stock Flandrau & Co. is selling by an assignee’s
order. The priced on this stock have been materially reduced, and any one
who may be hunting for a bargain in the carriage line will find it worth his
while to examine it.
“Flandrau & Co.’s own stock is a most comprehensive one, embracing every
novelty and oddity in pleasure vehicles, besides a complete line of the
standard shapes. Mr. Wilson says that the fashion in carriages for the
coming season calls fore more decoration and show both in the exterior
varnishing and painting and in the interior trimmings. The light woods will
hold their popularity. The tendency in all styles of vehicles is toward
fuller and stronger lines. The park and country wagons that Messrs. Flandrau
& Co. make a specialty of are provided with every new trouble-saving device
and are as comfortable as they are handsome.”
Seth C. Keyes passed away on January 6, 1893, at the age of 72, and his
share in the firm was assumed by Wilson, per the terms of their partnership.
The new 51st St. showroom was abandoned soon afterwards. In mid-1893 the New
York Times ran a year-long series of Flandrau-related items/advertisements
in their “HORSES AND HORSEMEN.; Notes from the Carriage Room, Auction Mart,
and Breeding Stable” columns, some of which are transcribed below:
May 16, 1893:
“A very handsome collection of vehicles is on exhibition at the
repositories of Messrs. Flandrau Co., 372 Broome Street, and Fifty-first
Street and Broadway.”
September 20, 1893:
“The name of Flandrau on a carriage is always accepted as the best
testimony of its being perfectly au fait in style, finish, and design. The
extensive warerooms of Flandrau & Co., 372, and 374 Broome Street, are
filled with handsome carriages of every known style, but all in the most
modern finish, and their new designs just finished and put on exhibition are
conceded to be perfect both from the point of the manufacturer and the
purchaser who enjoys a comfortable vehicle. They reflect great credit on the
firm, and are perfectly in keeping with its reputation. The popular prices
have made heir second-hand stock melt away like snow before the sun, but
there are still a few vehicles of this description left at very reasonable
November 1, 1893:
“Flandrau & Co., 372 and 376 Broome Street, have very magnificent
warerooms filled with the choicest designs of the season’s carriages. The
name of Flandrau is noted not only for exceptional beauty of design, but for
thoroughness in construction. They sell cabriolets, broughams, Victorias,
and landaus of new styles and of the best makes at prices that attract many
buyers. Their stock, both new and second-hand, is very large, and their line
of novelties is more extensive than that of any firm in the city.”
December 7, 1893:
“Flandrau & Co., 372-378 Broome Street, sold a beautiful sleigh yesterday
made after the Russian pattern and exquisitely fitted up with everything
that gives this exhilarating sport a pleasure. The stock of sleighs in this
establishment comprises about everything that can be put on runners, all of
the newest styles, it is needless to say, as Flandrau puts his name on
December 15, 1893:
Flandrau & Co., 372 to 378 Broome Street, have one of the most complete
lines of well-made, beautifully-finished and thoroughly-artistic carriages
in New York City. Their constant number of sales is a source of wonder to
other manufacturers. Even in the dullest times they are never put to it to
complain. They have friends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from
Canada to Mexico. May of their carriages go even to South America, and
wherever they go the word ‘Flandrau’ is a synonym for wear and tear, beauty,
and artistic design. Their line of second-hand carriages is to-day a large
one, and the prices are very reasonable.
Dec 23, 1893:
Flandrau & Co., 372-378 Broome Street, are just finishing a glass
wagonette, something of a novelty in the carriage line, for this city. When
wagonettes first came out, they had curtains, and the driver was protected;
they had three springs, easy to handle, and could carry a very good load
with two horses. Then some one wanted a glass front put in between the
passenger and the driver, another wanted glass ends, and finally it came
down to a glass on all four sides with the seating capacity of seven,
besides the driver, and the driver being covered, as in a coupe Rockaway, in
distinction to the omnibus, where the coachman has his box outside. This
wagonette is on platform springs and is lined with the very best leather. It
is needless to say that it is beautiful in design, as it comes form the
shops of Flandrau & Co. They sold yesterday a beautiful Victoria sleigh in
green silk plush, for a Christmas present, and, drawn by a team of
high-stepper, it will attract attention in Central Park, where tere are so
many beautiful vehicles on runners.”
January 31, 1894:
“Flandrau & Co., 372-378 Broome Street, have been doing a rushing
business the last few days in sleighs. This house is about the only one in
the city carrying a complete line of sleighs, as the snow has been so
infrequent the past few years, few of the carriage men have seen fit to
replenish their stock. The selection of vehicles on runners in this
establishment is of the very best. They are made remarkably light and
graceful as well as of wonderful strength. The finishing in real silk plush
is something unique in the way of sleighs. Moths do not trouble such plush,
and they can be stored with perfect safety. It will pay any one in need of
anything in runners to call at Flandrau & Co.’s large warerooms, if only for
the pleasure of seeing such exquisite specimens of the carriage builder’s
April 8, 1894:
“For this latter trade as well as for general town use, Flandrau & Co.,
372-376 Broome Street, have arranged a special display of everything in the
way of vehicles for use at the seashore or in the mountains tat surpasses
anything they have ever yet shown. It is a positive delight to the admirer
of a fine trap to wander through the great warerooms, for even the most
critical will find much to admire, even if his wants are of the practical
sort rather than for the elaborate. The claim that the stock is the largest
in the world does not seem out of place.
“A novelty for the year is the Blaine surrey, which resembles both a
surrey and a spider phaeton, and it is intended for two people. It is
suspended on side bars and cross springs, and has the new ‘bobtail’ lamps,
which are so popular this year. Another novelty is a runabout with a phaeton
seat, somewhat wider than usual. The Nonpareil trap is a Michigan vehicle
which is popular, as it can be used for two or four persons and is light,
strong and showy.”
June 15, 1894:
“Another up-to-date affair, likewise from the house of Flandrau, was a
four-wheel side-bar vehicle known to drivers on the road as a cocking wagon.
With the main seat placed unusually high, while the back seat for the
attendant was decidedly low, a very striking effect was obtained. The wagon
has a high box body of coaching blue, with the side slats of red,
corresponding in color with the gear. Last season was the first for cocking
wagons in New York. They are coming to be popular and fashionable turnouts.”
The following description of selected vehicles from the Flandrau
warerooms as featured in the New York Times on April 22, 1894, contains the
very same flowery adjectives and descriptive colors that could be found a
quarter century later in the same publication’s auto salon coverage:
“High Traps to be the Proper Thing This Season for Park and Road Use –
Some of the Novelties Shown at Flandrau’s Warerooms – Dark Blue and Greens
the Fashionable Colors – Proper Dress for Par Riders – Styles in Trousers.
“A demand for very high traps is the special feature that carriagemakers
have had to comply with to suit a very finikin trade this Spring. Each
driver of a cart that comes under the head of a ‘fancy turnout’ seems to be
possessed with a mania for getting up in the air as high as he can
conveniently and at the same time drive a horse. So the very smartest things
on wheels this year, always, of course, excepting the very pretty and very
daintily-dressed ladies who ride the bicycle, will be the traps on which the
driver is perched well above the back of his horse. The owner of the very
latest thing for use in the parks or on the country roads will, perforce,
look down upon the commoner who stick to the old-fashioned, low-slung road
wagon, the runabout, or the old, very comfortable style of the phaeton, such
as ladies have loved to ride in for so many years.
“But if one would now have the very proper caper for his high-stepper, he
must make up his mind to ride well up in the air, higher than he ever has
done heretofore, and in such a prominent position that he must be in
absolutely correct form not only in dress, but in the handling of his horse
or horses, if he would avoid the criticism of those who know what good
driving and proper dressing are.
“The new styles in tandem carts of all kinds, of Tilburys, and of traps
for either single horses or pairs, make as much of height as of any other
one point to an absolutely correct turnout. Flandrau's latest styles, now on
show in the Broome Street warehouse, that is so well known to owners of
fancy traps, are all noticeable for this feature, Even a morning cart, one
of the very latest things for ladies’ use, is swung well up from the ground,
though this is essentially a low cart. One of these traps shown at
Flandrau's is a handsome affair, on two wheels, of course, with a
highly-polished body of Burgandy wine-color, with moldings in black, and
fine stripings in cream color on the wheels, hub, and gearings. The cart has
a hood front, and is trimmed with a heavy and very rich silver-gray cloth.
The dash is concave in shape, allowing the horse to be hitched close up, and
on each side of the dash is fixed a lamp of tulip pattern with cut-glass
panels set in silver frames. The trap is decidedly elegant, and just the
sort of thing that would look ‘up to date’ in the parade on Bellevue Avenue
“A trap that will delight the younger men among the drivers is a
dos-a-dos cocking cart, set well up, trimmed with Bedford cord, and with the
running gear of coaching red, the shutters set into the shining black body
being of the same color. It is ‘nobby’ to the last degree. Another dos-a-dos
shown, somewhat heavier and larger. Is finished with a body of olive green,
with black and cream as the subordinate colors on the running gear. This,
too, has trimmings of Bedford cord cloth and a pair of handsome mail lamps
give it a thorough finish.
“A pony spider phaeton is among the new things that is sure to find
favor. The color of the body is of royal blue, so called, perhaps, because
it is of about the shade that is used for the uniform of a Wagner-car
porter, and therefore as near to royalty’s colors as anything we have in
this country. It is one of the extremely fashionable colors this Spring, at
all events, and is rich and modest. This particular phaeton has the running
gear and the pillars striped with cream color in web-like lines, and the
rumble is set on in truly artistic fashion. It will take a perfect team, a
smartly-dressed lady, and a tiger of the rarest to give this road cart the
finish it deserves when on the road.
“Another spider phaeton shown is called the Lenox, which is hung on
side-bar gearing. This has a hood, a body of graceful lines with Stanhope
pillars, the former in royal blue, and the pillars in café au lait, with
stripes of the same tint in the blue running gear. The trimmings are drab
cloth, with embroidered trimmings of a trifle deeper shade. Behind a pair of
cobs, this would make a trap of which any owner might well be proud.
“A Park trap for a pair of cobs about 15.2 has the prevailing royal blue
for the body color, with the gearing and the shutters finished in vermilion,
and the trimmings of Bedford cloth. A good family trap is a Layne phaeton,
standing very high, with two seats, Bedford cord trimmings, and finished in
blue and black, with cream stripings.
“Two novelties shown for the Park or country road are a French break,
which is made to carry seven people. It is intended to be drawn by a pair of
French coachers, and with such a trap a gentleman need have no fear to drive
in any part of Long Island, for no one, even in that country of smart
turnouts, would have a better-looking break than he. The colors are royal
blue for the body and maroon for the running gear, the body panels being
separated by moldings of black, picked out with maroon in very tasty
fashion. A French opera bus that is a novelty has seats for six people
outside, and for six more inside, and is a showy affair for four light
horses. The upper works are black, with the running gear and the shutters in
the boot of carmine. The upholstery is of the silver-gray cloth which is so
generally fancied in all traps.
“My lady will be interested in a visit to Flandrau’s warehouse by an
inspection of a Queen cabriolet, graceful as Hogarth’s Line of Beauty in
shape, and finished in two shades of green, the body of a very deep color,
and the ’S’ pillars and the striping of sage green. Moldings are black and
the gear stripings of café au lait. A royal Victoria, in royal blue, very
modest and rich, with drab trimmings, is also a very striking carriage, and
a third has the royal blue body with the Stanhope pillars of cream color,
and the body striped into panels with the same delicate shade.”
An 1895 Flandrau break is on display at Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor
Hotel. The amazing hotel was built in 1918 by Philadelphia mining magnate
Spencer Penrose. One of his hobbies was collecting carriages and the hotel
maintains a small carriage museum, The Flandrau carriage in his collection
was once owned by Chester Alan Arthur II, son of the 21st president of the
U.S. The break was designed to transport its wealthy owner and his friends
on short excursions or, when equipped as a dog cart, to fox hunts. The
roof-top seats served as prime spectator seating and were often in great
demand with the ladies at sporting events. Arthur was part-time Colorado
Springs resident and he often took groups of friends to the Brown Palace
Hotel for dinner using the vehicle.
A.S. Flandrau not only manufactured carriages, they also distributed them
and for many years served as the Manhattan distributor for Judkins. Flandrau
was also involved in bodying New York City’s first electric taxicabs which
were manufactured and operated by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Co.
/Electric Vehicle Co. of New York.
Unable to fill a large order for additional bodies, Daniel T. Wilson
subcontracted the construction of 20 bodies to Judkins. Those twenty
vehicles were the first automobiles known to have been bodied by the
Merrimac firm, and when manufacture of the taxicabs – now called Columbias -
was transferred to Col. Pope in Hartford, Connecticut, both Judkins and
Willoughby of Utica, New York supplied most of the coachwork. The driver of
these early taxis sat in a little open ‘balcony’ behind the tall,
glass-enclosed passenger compartment and steered using an early steering
The following advertisement appeared in the March 31, 1902 New York
“Flandrau & Co., Formerly at 372, 4, 6 Broome St., HAVE REMOVED TO 406,
8, 10, 12 Broome St., N.Y. A DOZEN BLOCKS FROM BRIDGE.
“A much larger building completely fitted for our business, facing on
three streets, Broome, Elm and Marion, thus insuring perfect light; in
stormy weather illuminated throughout by electricity; passenger and freight
elevators; the most modern plant in every department; easier of access by
Broadway cars but two blocks away; dozen blocks from the Bridge; all ‘Ls’ to
Grand Street; all surface cars to Broome Street; 4th Avenue cars pass
“We Show This Spring the Finest and Largest Stock of PLEASURE CARRIAGES
For Town and Country OF THE BEST QUALITY Ever Shown by One Firm, COMPRISING
EVERY STANDARD DESIGN AND NOVELTY At Lowest Prices for Quality. Some
Second-Hand Vehicles at Low Prices.”
On January 3, 1904, Flandrau’s Daniel T. Wilson was interviewed by the
New York Times in regards to the current state of the carriage business:
“Every Indication That Business Will Be Good – Automobile Manufacturers
“According to manufacturers and selling agents in the carriage and
automobile business, the outlook for trade in these lines during the new
year is good. Little plunging is expected, but the universal feeling is that
the ill-effect of the shrinkage in security values, which had a marked
effect on these lines of business in the closing months of 1903, has spent
its force, and that now that a readjustment of values has been reached the
buying of pleasure and business vehicles will resume its natural volume.
“Daniel T. Wilson of Flandrau & Co., who is also President of the
National Carriage Manufacturers’ Association said:
“The carriage trade in the last year has fallen off throughout the entire
country. The shrinkage has been about 20 per cent from the best business
year, and about 10 per cent from a normal year. The falling off first
manifested itself about April and May, when the makers of cheap carriages
were hurt by the Spring floods. The manufacturers who were in the habit of
making large quantities were forced to curtail their output because there
were large stock left in the hands of dealers, and that has continued during
the whole year.
“The output now is 25 per cent less than Spring. If the coming Spring is
pleasant, however, and no other unusual condition arise, that will right
itself, and the business will be large as ever. The farmers have money to
spend on carriages, and if the weather is at all favorable they will spend
“The trade itself has been hurt, too, this year by the extensive labor
troubles in all parts of the country, but these seem now to have been all
“The fine carriage trade in New York and other large cities was hurt of
course by the shrinkage in the value of securities. Now that things in Wall
Street begin to look better and settled values seem to have been reached, we
expect that they ill begin to buy again. The growth of the demand for
automobiles has hurt the carriage a little, but not enough to be felt in
“The reports which I have received show the trade in business wagons to
have been phenomenally good, and in that branch of the business the outlook
is very bright for a prosperous season. Taking the carriage business as a
whole I expect as good a year as the average, allowing of course for the
normal contraction in a Presidential year.”
A biography of Paul C. Langner, Flandrau’s chief delineator, appeared in
the April 1904 issue of Carriage Monthly:
“Paul C. Langner, (born 1862, Germany) draftsman with Flandrau & Co., New
York City, was born forty two years ago in Eastern Prussia, Germany. He.
entered a body building shop at the age of fourteen years, and at the same
time began the study of carriage drafting. After serving his time he went to
Leipsic, Saxony; thence to Strasburg, and down the river Rhine to
Düsseldorf, acquiring a journeyman's knowledge in the various shops. He
finally arrived at Münster, and worked in the different, establishments of
"Mr. Langner arrived in New York in 1885, and worked in the various
carriage plants of that city. His next step was to enter the Technical
School, where he studied for four years, and then became draftsman for
Flandrau & Co. In 1900 he visited the Paris Exposition to further his
knowledge of carriage drafting, and while abroad visited the prominent
European carriage centers.”
Langner had been introduced to Wilson in the latter’s capacity as a
director of Manhattan’s Technical School for Carriage Draftsmen and
Mechanics which was founded in December of 1880 by the Carriage Builders
National Association. Brewster & Co.’s John D. Gribbon served as its initial
instructor, after which Andrew F. Johnson, an early graduate, headed the
school. Free instruction was offered via day and evening classes, and a
low-cost correspondence program was available for out-of town students.
Flandrau’s Daniel T. Wilson made frequent trips to New York City’s early
European automobile importers that were scattered along Broadway in
Manhattan’s ‘automobile row’. The neighborhood that once housed a Flandrau
showroom was now the home of the city’s high-end automobile showrooms, many
of whom did business with Flandrau. In the first decade of the twentieth
century the firm is known to have bodied Columbia, Hotchkiss, Richard-Brasier,
Renault and Mercedes chassis.
When E.B. Gallagher, the importer of the Brasier automobile decided to
withdraw from business in 1910, Daniel T. Wilson organized the Flandrau
Motor Car Co., 406 Broome St., New York and took over as importer of the
French-built automobile. Wilson served as president of the firm and
Manhattan attorney Wilford H. Smith, as vice-president and treasurer.
The massive and massively expensive chain-drive Brasier was the successor
to the Richard-Brasier which was itself the successor of the Georges Richard
automobile. The Richard-Brasier developed a well-earned reputation after
winning the 1904 and 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup, and despite the fact that
Georges Richard left the firm in 1905 to found Unic, the car remained
popular despite a name change to Brasier in 1906. Flandrau offered twin,
four and six-cylinder Brasiers prior to the firm’s withdrawal from the US
market due to the inherent risk to of cross-Atlantic passage due to the
developing European conflict.
In addition to a couple of new Brasier chassis, Flandrau inherited
Gallagher’s stable of used cars and took out the following classified ads in
the Automobile Club of America’s Club Journal during 1910:
“No. 622—1906 Renault. 20-30 H. P., limousine body (Flandrau),
convertible into open body with canopy top. Used as town car only. Fine
condition. More than fully equipped. Price, $3,500.
“No. 733—Richard Brasier, 25 H. P., 1906, with two bodies. New touring
body by Flandrau, with Victoria hood and slip covers. Limousine by
Rothschild, mahogany interior finish. This car will be sold with the two
bodies, or with one, or either body will be sold separately. A low figure
will be accepted.”
Wilson was also an active member of the C.B.N.A. (Carriage Builders
National Association) and along with William Wiese represented the Manhattan
members at the 1910 Portland, Maine funeral of Charles Frederic Kimball.
With no more Brasiers to sell, and the future supply of all European
chassis in question, Daniel T. Wilson decided to close up shop and withdraw
from the coachbuilding business on July 1, 1914. He went to work for
Brewster & Company as sales manager for Rolls-Royce automobiles and bodies.
Wilson passed away in 1937 at the age of 82.
© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com