Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Santa's Sleigh Lives Here

Perhaps the oldest vehicle in our collection is this 19th century Albany cutter sleigh. James Goold of Albany, NY developed the Albany cutter sleigh around 1833. His design was replicated over time and it eventually became the second most popular winter passenger vehicle in the United States (after the Portland cutter sleigh). The sporty Albany cutter was so fashionable that Kris Kringle was usually depicted riding in one!

The Albany cutter, also called a swan- or swell-body sleigh, is distinguished by its dramatically upswept runners that match the curvature of the carriage. Unlike other sleighs, the Albany cutter’s body and runners were built as one unit. Their elegant shape was obtained by steaming the wood components, a lengthy process that required extensive skill and craftsmanship.

Albany cutters were more highly decorated than other sleighs, frequently displaying eagle heads on the upper edge of the dash (as on our sleigh) and custom paintings dictated by the owner. The Fountainhead Museum's Albany cutter was meticulously restored by an Amish craftsman and pinstriped by hand. The vignettes, or ornamental designs, on it were painted by a Mennonite craftswoman. It's amazing to me that someone could paint such elegant lines without help from stencils, lasers or computers!

This month you can sneak a free peek at this lovely sleigh in the Wedgewood Resort Visitor Center. Keep in mind, though, that Santa has reserved it for Christmas Eve!

Nancy

3 comments:

  1. Interesting fact: Rudolph came to life in 1939. A promotional gimmick created by Montgomery-Ward.

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow you guys know how to do it Top shelf

    ReplyDelete
  3. we have several young folks, even one of the cub scout groups watching for the missing sleigh... they will let us know if it is spotted in the next month
    willy

    ReplyDelete

Blogging about the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum's latest news, adventures and research