GUIET’S MAIL-COACH INQUIRY
Hughes LEGRAND assisted by Dieter E. GAISER
A little less than a year ago, the article SOUVENIRS D'UN RECORD from Paris to Trouville concluded with this sentence by Auguste Guiet:« The most practical, and highest possible, compliment was paid to Mr. Guiet, immediately on the arrival at Trouville, by Messrs Gordon Bennett, Tailer & Higgins, each of those gentlemen ordering a mail exactly like that of Mr. Tiffany ».
There was a great temptation to look for other mail-coaches out of the same "mold" and Patrick Saint-Germain, former owner of the Comet, encouraged this search.
The article THE ART OF BUILDING GUIET & C ° CARS, published a month later, made it possible to distinguish differences between road-coach and mail-coach from this Parisian company very active on the international market. [link]Horse-drawn news was telescoped with these publications, since 1944, New York Historical Society Museum which had owned The Herald renamed Lightning, put it on sale at Martin Auctionneers on 04/26/19. Its new owner, the German collector Siegward Tesch from Wiehl gave it for conservation to Dieter E. Gaiser – Historische Restaurierungen.
Mail-coach The Lightning, offered for sale by Martin Auctionneers, Inc Carriage Museum Siegward Tesch, Wiehl in Germany
Thanks to the expertise and documentation of Dieter Gaiser and Patrick Saint-Germain, now we invite you to discover Herald - Lightningsimilar coaches.
This article is also published in French for the many amateurs who share our passion.
SKETCH ARTIST OF A MAIL-COACH by GUIET & Cie
In his interview with the International Herald Tribune of June 27, 1892, therefore 15 days before the Paris - Trouville record, W. G. Tiffany, his sponsor, gave useful details on this new mail coach:
« There will be but four passengers and the guard, for the reason that there would be no room for more. The luggage will be stacked up on the top, as much as possible over the back wheels, as was the custom in olden days, for means you prevent the bottom of the coach from floating round, and you can obtain greater speed. »
« This kind of coach runs very lightly, and I am assured that it would make the most practical kind of coach in the United States, where the roads are heavy and where it is difficult to get over the ground. You can get the luggage of four people in the boot, and even then the coach is 1,000 lb. lighter than an ordinary road coach. It seems to me to be the most practical kind of coach for long trips.»
In 1901, Fairman Rogers in A Manual of Coaching, already gave us a scale drawing of a MAIL-COACH by GUIET & Co., we reproduce it to illustrate the explanations given in May 2019.The press and Auguste Guiet himself wrote that the Herald was built on the model of the old English mail coach, at the request of W.G. Tiffany who had obtained the drawings from the London Post Office. In comparison with the coaches made by Guiet before the Herald, this one is an adaptation and not a faithful copy of the real English mail-coach.
The Herald with 1,230 kg is lighter when empty,she is narrower. Except for the whip and the guard, it accommodates far fewer passengers - 4 people outside and 4 inside, instead of 8 to 12 and 6 respectively. She is a coach to transport mail and a few passengers, not a public coach or a stagecoach. If we compare the drawings of the Herald and former mail-coach by Million Guiet or road-coach by Guiet & C°, we notice that the guard's seat is in rotunda, it is for one person and placed on a metal tripod with a leather skirtinstead of a 2-3 peopleseat fixed on wooden support laid on edge. The deeper mail boot hatch opens from above, while for road-coach, the boot door is at the rear for storing tools and spare parts. The roofhas only a front seatlooking forward, there is no seat looking backward, even foldable because there is a “blunderbuss” case and another one for tools.
The driver and guest’s seat are in a wooden seat with three angled and rounded ledges instead of a seat gallery with several round iron (see photo).
The Herald‘s body is slightly lower on the running gear, but global height is almost the same as that of the road-coach, boots’ panels are closer to a rectangle or a trapezoid unlike those of the Herald which are almost square. Now, window in the door is square. The interior is upholstered with a thick, plush cloth, in the drags it is padded like a private coach, that of the road-coaches is paneled with hard and light wood like a public coach. There are three footman-steps on the front bootpanel instead of two. If there is a ladder to climb on the roof, it is hung under the rear axle, there is no housing for the ladder, nor hatch in the boots as for drags or old mails.
At the rear axle, the suspension is different because the mass transported is much lower than on a road-coach.
One of the four existing genuine Royal Mail Coach, built by Vidler, Mail Coach Factory (MCF) in 1832. (Carriage Museum Siegward Tesch in Wiehl, Germany)
The original Royal mail-coach has indeed a unique and round guard seat, mounted on fittings, no additional bench seat on the roof and boots which open from above. But it is even lighter, less than 1,000 kg; it has a higher body, about 15 cm; front and rear boxes are deeper for carrying more mail. Some models have wheels with mortises intertwined in the hub.
So, the Herald is an intermediate model between the road-coach and the Royal mail coach, created for wealthy American whip to run faster and longer.
For decorative details, the Herald's front bootpanel has a small crosier between the corner of the boot and a step. Iron armrests are typical with their curved scrolls.
1 –THE HERALD n° 6586
The Herald, ordered by W.G. Tiffany, built in May - June 1892, was sold just after the record of July 12, 1892, to T. Suffern Tailer who took her home to Newport and renamed her Lightning, then proposed her in 1927 to E. Victor Loew (1873-1950). She wears brass plates "MILLION GUIET & Cie / PARIS" in the doors and n ° 6586 on the wheel caps (hubs) and on many parts including the key to disassemble the wheels. A rifle box is on the roof and another one for tools is on its rear side. Inside, there is a potty seat under rear seat cushion.
But what happened to coaches ordered by other participants, namely James G. Bennett, and E. Higgins, upon arrival in Trouville?
2 –THE COLUMBIA N°6587
The Columbia shows all the features of the Herald. She has been in New York at the Long Island Museum since 1958. The New York Herald and the museum attribute her to MILLION-GUIET maker. The body is painted in matt black except lower quarter andmaroondoor. The under carriage, foot board and front seat risers are the same red vermillion. The seat upholstery is in red vermillion cloth. She is absolutely identical to the Herald in her colors, except for lower quarter and door. A gun box is on the roof and another storage box for tools behind. Serial number 6587, so she is just behindThe Herald.
Eugene Higgins had ordered this copy of the Herald which was delivered at the end of August 1892, he sold her $ 825 to James H. Hyde who sold her for $ 1,000 to Paul R. Bonner on November 20, 1905 who also bought the Liberty only $ 700 because she is heavier that the Columbia (New-York Herald, November 21, 1905, p.4); but it was J.H. Hyde who put her on sale in October 1913 in New York.
3 - THE COMET n° 6601
The coach bought at the Baltimore Museum of Art (Maryland) by P. Saint-Germain revealed during her restoration in 1994, the inscription "Comet" under the red paint of the footboard. She also has all the specific features of the Herald but her weight of around 1,500 kg would be greater. Before her restoration, different parts of the Comet have the same colors as the Columbia. Wheel caps and plates screwed on to the doors bear the GUIET & C ° - PARIS brand and not MILLION GUIET. With the serial number 6601, only 14 carriages separate her from the Herald. Its manufacture therefore dates from July-August 1892.
In September 1890, The Reunion coaches of MM. Ridgway, Bennett, Tiffany and Baron Lejeune start service from Paris to Poissy with the Comet, which was a road-coach made by Holland &Holland and belonged to one of the club members. She went on sale in June 1891 at the same time as the Meteor at the French coachmaker Mühlbacher.
But the same Comettakes the road on the same line, journalists talking about the "old coach Comet". It is unclear whether the coach has changed ownership or has been leased.
During May 1892, T. Suffern Tailer's coach Comet was on the line to Poissy, he confided to passengers that he wanted to take her to New York to create a service between 5th Avenue and the Country Club or for the International World's Fair. Comet started the service, but she was replaced on 10.17.1892 by TheRapid, a new mail coach produced at the end of August 1892 by Guiet for T.S. Tailer after the Herald.
In October 1892 (3 months after the Paris-Trouville record), the New York Times announced the arrival of Paris from the Comet and the Lightning [ex Herald] in order to ensure the lines for the races at Morris Park. It must be the old Comet. E. Higgins owning the Columbia, Suffern Tailer the Herald, the Comet had to be James G. Bennett by deduction, Suffern Tailer remaining the coach man. Another journalist wrote that Comet was offered by J. G. Bennett to Mr. Tailer in thanks for its success in Paris. Before its restoration, it was found that the new Comet n ° 6601 had run little. The social life of T.S. Tailer seemed more active than his sporting life after his engagement in November 1892. The mail-coach The Rapid left for the USA on August 29, 1892, it is very likely that T.S. Tailer renamed it The Comet, but then used it little.
4 - THE TANTIVY/ LIBERTY / BAY-SHORE (?)
James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), a very wealthy young American, heir to The Equitable Life Assurance, president and founder of the Fédération de l'Alliancefrançaise, was passionate about the art of driving four-in-hands. Coming out of Harvard, he arrived in Paris in 1899, he took lessons with Howlett.
On October 9, 1901, at the age of 26, he broke the speed record between New York and Philadelphia and back New York with Alfred G. Vanderbilt (1877-1915) and Morris Howlett (1873-1939), at aboard his Tantivy mail-coach. It was an incredible success, a huge crowd cheered when he arrived. A French chronicler writes two months later: "As for the mail-coach, bought two years ago in Paris by Mr. James H. Hyde, she suffered no damage." The coach would have been acquired in 1899. An American author specifies that the Tantivy was built in Paris for James G. Bennett who would have resold it. Several newspaper clippings in the record ‘s scrapbook [entrusted to the Smithsonian], shows the Tantivy, conforms to the Herald’s model, except the rear seat of the guard which is double, but remains rounded with its skirt and on the roof an additional bench which looks backwards.
The Tantivy was ordered in 1892 by James G. Bennett from Guiet & Cie for $ 1,600, who sold it for $800 in 1899 to James H. Hyde who could have tried his first French mail-coach.
In 1903, Hyde asked Brewster & C ° to transform her into a public-coach: “ball-bearings axles were installed and the original two-man guard’s seat with its very wide leather skirt was replaced with a more conventional one”, an additional rear seat for the road. “Total capacity was still only nine people including guard besides the coachman and box seat”. For its new use, J. H. Hyde renames herThe Liberty and will ensure the route between Holland House (NY) and Laurel-in-the-Pines, Lakewood, New-Jersey: 79 miles in 10 hours, from March 31, 1903.
But another feat may be to the credit of this coach. According to K. E. Wheeling (Carriage Journal) and included in the museum's notice; on July 20, 1903, J. H. Hyde helped by the faithful Howlett, is the first to successfully climb to the Grand Saint-Bernard(Switzerland-Italy) in six hours with his baptized coach Bay-Shore, named after its property in Long Island, USA.
The Bay-Shore trip is also reported in La Revue hebdomadaireof August 1903, but without making any link with the Tantivy or The Liberty. To our knowledge, these are the only press articles on the Bay-Shore mail coach.
The accompanying reporter said that "James H. Hyde's mail-coach, Bay-Shore, was built by Guiet, who strictly followed the model of the former royal English mail-coach". Its "service records are: Paris - Bordeaux, Paris - Geneva - Paris, Paris - Clarens".
The service between Holland House and Lakewood lasted from March 31 to May 15, 1903 and the excursion to the Grand Saint-Bernard was on July 20, 1903, plus the journeys through France, one wonders if it is plausible that Liberty and Bay-Shore are one.
Did the Liberty cross the Atlantic again and why did J.H. Hyde rename it Bay-Shore again?
James H. Hyde's schedule before this excursion was quite busy. Arrived in Le Havre on June 11, he was received on June 27 by the Public Instruction’s Minister; on July 4 he participated in a large banquet at the Paris Chamber of Commerce. We can therefore imagine that part of the "service reports" through France was carried out before. Having twenty-five cars on his Long Island property, he could have a second Guiet coach in Paris to avoid the risks associated with dismantling, transshipment and reassembly. The bad photos towards the St-Bernard pass do not allow us to see if the coach was already modified in the rear seat, which would have been an important clue.
It would be necessary to have access to the archives of J.H. Hyde at the Shelburne Museum to verify if the Bay-Shore and the Liberty are one or two different mail-coach. The serial number would also be very useful.
The mail put up for sale by J.H. Hyde at Van Tassell & Kearney in New York, on 20/11/1905, was bought for $ 700 by Paul R. Bonner, and sold on 18/11/1913 by the same company. In 1917-18, Mr. R. Crandall, its owner, made the Buffalo - New York route. In 1949, she was donated by J. Ford Johnson of New York to The Shelburne Museum, which restored her in 1971.
5 - MAIL-COACH N° 6800
This mail located in Austria, has the required characters, but the round guard seat has two places, plus an additional bench seat on the roof becoming an imperial. The current colors, black and yellow for the body, vermilion for the running-gear, are not original, as it was repainted around 1970. The seat upholstery is recent too. The rear-boot seems to open from above. Interior is done with hard wood, only varnished. Inside, there is also a potty seat under rear seat cushion.The coach has 4 lantern holders, 2 on the body as on other mails, plus 2 on the driver's seat.
The mail was in the collection of Manfred de Diepold, but the last owners do not know the former owners.
The wheel caps are marked "MILLION & GUIET / PARIS" with the n ° 6800. So, it was later built than the Herald.
6 - MAIL-COACH N° 7509
This mail which was in the stables of a castle in Brittany, was recovered after the last war, she has just been bought by the Hardy Stables which has a very varied collection of old carriages for film shoots. The mail has lost her running-gear, the box is in very bad condition. It retains the traditional colors of its older sisters, black body, underbody and red front seat. The interior is paneled in light wood. Inside each door, a brass plaque marked "MILLION-GUIET / PARIS". Serial number 7509 is stenciled on a wooden panel and stamped inside the brake lever. There are around a hundred cars of all types which separate its production from that of the Herald, the estimation of the dating is hazardous because orders and production were not linear in time.
The two baluster fittings attached to the rear boot are for a double guard seat that has disappeared. A box is hung in the back in front of the guards. The rear boot opens from the back, not from the top. The guest seat next to the driver does not have the raised backrest visible on other mail-coaches.
There are still at least six mail-coaches built from the same model as the Herald and built a priori in the year following the release of this prototype.
On this panel of six existing cars, we have concordant indices which allow four mails to be linked to their first owners.
Our initial objective of finding the coaches ordered at the end of the Paris - Trouville record by J. Gordon Bennett, Suffern Tailer and Eugène Higgins seems to have been achieved.
W. G. Tiffany, owner of the Herald, quickly hands it over to S. Tailer for an unknown reason.
E. Higgins names his coachColumbia and T.S. Tailergives the name Comet to the mail delivered.
We have noticed that this enthusiasm has spread to other whip like J. Hazen Hyde, E. de la Haye Jousselin and the Prince of Galatro, without knowing the other coachmen attracted by this new model inspired by the English mail-coach.
We also found other mail-coaches, but only in photos and in a film.
MAIL-COACHES FOUND IN PICTURE
7 - MAIL-COACH of Ferdinand Colonna, Prince of Galatro
Little information on this person, but his father-in-law, J. W. Mackay, wealthy industrialist was associated with J. G. Bennett in the Commercial Cable Co.
There is only one B&W photo by J. Delton that appeared in La Photographie Hippique, when it won 1st prize in the 1893’s horse racing competition. The press was unanimous in recognizing its elegance.
The body is dark, but the underbody, the footboard, the driver's seat and the gear have the same white or yellow color. The guard's rear seat is rounded and double.
8 - MAIL-COACH of Edmond de La Haye Jousselin (1839-1903), president of Cercle des Guides
A single photo taken at Place de la Concorde during a meeting of coaches unquestionably shows a Guiet mail-coach with a rounded two-seater guard seat on a tripod. The Guides directory specifies in 1899: brown box, vermilion gear, which apparently matches the photo.
There are other photos captioned "Coach of Mr. La Haye-Jousselin". The one signed Delton - 1884, corresponds to a Holland & Holland coach. Another photo taken on Drags’ Day in 1898, marked Guiet bodywork, does not show the same coach, the body is completely black, and an umbrella basket is on the left side, the guard seat is not visible.
9 - COUPE-MAIL GUIET & Cie
Coupes-mail are very rare, a fine example of restoration by Dieter Gaiser was published in Attelage - Patrimoine under the title La renaissance du coupé mail n ° 268, construit par Binder à Paris.
We know at least three different photos of the only Guiet coupe-mail known to date. The front quarter is very reduced and the door is offset to allow the climb of two passengers.
In the clearest photo, taken around 1910, in a wide avenue during a horse show at the Grand Palais: the two guards are on a rounded seat, there is no rear-facing seat. The body looks black, lower quarter, window frame, footboard, front seat risers and seat boxes are white. The running-gear color is light, maybe orange.
The whip and owner is Philippe Bourcart (1868-1937), member of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce, great-grandson of Mr. Dollfus-Mieg and son-in-law of the founding president of Nestlé.
In the other photo, taken in front of a house, the white parts of the coupe are reduced to the lower quarter and to the window, the gear looks darker. The legend says, "The coach of Mr. Franchomme".
Hector Franchomme (1860-1939), industrial chocolate maker in the north of France, very high-level rider, owned several carriages and was very attached to the traditional coaching, he regularly participated in the Drag’s Day and horse shows. He would have initiated Baron Casier in the art of four-in-handsdriving.
A painting by André Marchand and the other known photos with H. Franchomme, show a classic coach still black and white and a vermilion gear, but it is not the same coupe-mail.
10 - MAIL-COACH in the movie Madame de…
During a recent replay of the famous film with Danielle Darrieux filmed in black and white by Max Ophuls in 1953, the appearance of a mail-coach Guiet during a hunt with hounds, was an incredible coincidence. The double guard seat, the armrests, the three steps at the front were clearly visible. The body was black, the supports, the driver’s seat box and under carriage part were white. Coincidence or clue of concordance, the coach has a second roof seat, 4 lantern holders, 2 on the body as on other mails, plus 2 on the driver's seat as on mail n ° 6800.
But the coach with its lanterns was driven by a coachman and had only two horses; historical authenticity was not sought after. The credits did not specify the owner who rented his mail and there was not yet a rental company specializing in this type of coach. We only know that the movie was filmed in Rambouillet, Versailles and Uzès.
COACHES FOUND IN THE PRESS OR LITERATURE
An International Herald Tribune correspondent wrote on August 21, 1892:
“It will astonish many members of the coaching fraternity, more especially the English, to hear that there are some twenty mails and road coaches being built by one firm in Paris at this moment. This is the first outcome of last season's road coaching and the success of the memorable journey to Trouville. The lucky builder of the lot is the firm of Million-Guiet."
It seemed useful to us to find the owners or mail-coaches ordered or built a mail-coach inspired from the Herald found in the available documentation.
Oliver-H.-P. Belmont, member of the Circle of Guides and of the Coaching Club of New York
The New York Herald of 29.05 and 17.07.1892 announces that it has ordered from Million-Guiet a coach identical to the Herald like Higgins and Tiffany. “The colors and the route of the coach are kept, a close secret, and all that is known at present is that the coach is destined for the United States.”
The Siriusto Sir James Gordon Bennett, New-York Herald’sowner, vice-president. and founder of the New York Coaching Club in 1875,member of Reunion Coaching Club de Paris.
End August1892: “the new mail coach which will shortly be put on the road between Paris and Rouen, is finished with the exception of her paint. (…)”
"TheSirius is what was in olden days known as a fast mail, but she differs in certain respects from The Herald(…), she will be able to carry eight passengers: three on the front seat, one on the box, three on the back seat and one on the guard's seat, which latter now holds two, instead of one as on the other mail. (…) In the case of The Sirius the seats have been allowed to overlap a little, so as to give a little extra room.
Carel du Ham in A new sport -The Coachting, Figaro of 16.10.1892, wrote:
“And now coachting [sic] a sport that has grown enormously. So just in the hall of a carriage maker on Avenue Montaigne, at Guiet & Co, you can see several coaches of this kind, built by them.
First of all, an absolutely identical model to that of the Royal Mail in London, a typical coach in terms of its shape and colors, which is to be part of the Reunions-coach and will operate this service from Nice to Cannes this winter. On the panels, the original coat of arms of Mr. Gordon Bennett. "
Thus the Comet or the Meteor which provided the service Nice - Cannes, during the winter 1891, had to be replaced by a mail-coach which is a little surprising for a service ensured by public-coach who have a greater capacity than mail. Was it the Tantivy or the new Comet?
It’s difficult to keep track of the many press tycoon’scarriages. One certainty, he knew the founders of Million-Guiet and Auguste Guiet very well. He particularly liked their coaches. He had bought a mail-coach at the 1875 Exposition (Figaro); in 1876 he had a Million-Guiet drag in New York according to The Hub which also said that in 1876 he had bought 12 Million-Guiet carriages, representing the main different models.
The Rapid to T. Suffern Tailer
Not to be confused with the coach of the same name produced by Cowlard and Selby (London). She is “painted with the Reunion colors, vermilion wheels and claret body. The name is written under the footboard in the writing of its owner. This is the latest fashion, and the effect is very pretty. The name will also be painted on the back of the back boot. before the coach leaves here, and on the small panel of the window are the letters, in capitals, T.S.T., the initials of the proprietor.The rest of the lettering will be done in the United States”, where the coach leaves [08.29.1892].“She will in all probability run between Tuxedo and New York, and during the World's Fair she will run out of Chicago to one of the country clubs.”(International Herald Tribune, 08.21.1892)
We explained above that it was probably renamed Comet by T.S. Tailer since it had the name after the donation from JG Bennett, that the makers of another Rapid complained, and that there is no visible information about The Rapid after its service during the races at Morris Park in October 1892.
If our readers have information or clues to find other Million-Guiet or Guiet & Cie coaches, we will use them with keen interest to complete this survey and the directory of carriages manufactured by this important maker. We will thus continue this Franco-American and Franco-European cooperation which has enabled the development of coaching across Europeand America.
This investigation also makes us very modest and reminds us that the coaches had several lives and often several costumes.
- Patrick Saint-Germain for his advice, his photos
- Frédéric Hardy, Ecuries Hardy, for his informations, his photos
- Lieven De Zitter, collector, for his advice.
- Gallica – Retronews(BNF)
- Library of Congress
- Fairman Rogers,A Manual of Coaching, 1901
- Jean-Louis Libourel,Vocabulaire hippomobile,2005
- The New York Historical Society, USA