Petry, Geisell, Bayha 1864-1865; Petry, Geisell, Bayha & Co., 1866-1877; Geissel & Bayha 1877-1891; A. Geissel & Sons - 1891-1970s - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & 1970s-1983, Colmar, Pennsylvania; King Limousine & Transportation Service 1983-present Warminster, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania


  In 1915 and 1916 Geissel built on Buick and Cadillac chassis but would also place their bodies on customer-supplied chassis for $1200, about half of what a Geissel-Buick coach cost at the time. For 1917 they advertised an invalid coach which was just a new term for an ambulance. Their combination casket-wagon/invalid coach included roll-up white blinds in addition the traditional funereal draperies.

For 1918 Geissel produced a direct descendent of the Landau hearse on a 43hp twin-six Packard chassis with a wheelbase of 136". This all-black limousine-style funeral coach had blanked-out rear quarter windows and plain black blinds on inside its rear doors.  Geissel also produced a stunning European-style eight-column hearse with huge glass windows in place of the normal carved-wood panels.

A 1919 advertisement stated that Geissel had "Over a half-century of Specialization in Building Funeral Equipment" and featured a raised-center 8-column class-sided hearse with heavy features that looked like a gothic mausoleum on wheels. They also offered a more conservative 8-column casket wagon on a White chassis whose carved panels emulated the increasingly popular ray-patterned draperies. 

In 1921 Geissel built a custom gothic coach, the likes of which would never be seen again. Built for Philadelphia undertaker Charles J. Cristinzio, this coach featured heavy columns and intricate carvings only seen before on French and German horse-drawn hearses built for royalty. Finished in three-tone gray and built on a REO chassis, it featured a raised center chamber peaked by a two-foot-high angel on each side. Carved maidens were carved into the eight columns which held up the roof. Four shorter angels were perched at the roof's corners and intricately carved draperies were seen behind the glass panels separating the columns.

The 1922 catalog showed a Cadillac-chassised funeral coach with a blanked-out rear side window and frosted and leaded glass windows installed in the attendant's side-entry doors. The vehicle looked very-much like a taxicab or town limousine. It was finished in a dark two-tone paint scheme and featured wide whitewall tires and rear-view mirrors mounted on the front fenders.

The 1924 Geissel catalog showed a well-equipped two-tone ambulance with leaded-glass windows and running water on a Stearns-Knight chassis. Also pictured was a huge Pierce-Arrow chassised limousine-style combination coach with pull down blinds. And their 1926 advertising included a conservatively-styled limousine-style hearse on a Cadillac chassis. Throughout the mid-to-late Twenties Geissel offered a line of  casket and service cars on Dodge chassis that were based on regular delivery van bodies.

Geissel stopped producing funeral vehicles in the late 1920s and turned to distribution and sales of Henney professional vehicles and later sold Miller-Meteor coaches.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

 

  For more information please read:

The Professional Car, Issue #36, Summer 1985

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company: a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

 



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