Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What’s the Name of this Western Buckboard?

As I’ve shared numerous times before, the early horse-drawn vehicle industry was a complex and often complicated mix of vehicles, styles, uses, construction, and regional preferences.  In our continuing work to showcase some of the modern-day obstacles to authoritative study of the vehicles, we issued a friendly challenge last week to identify the name applied to a particular western buckboard marketed by Studebaker.  We had quite a few page views but, unfortunately, no guesses were ventured. 

Okay.  Now comes a small confession.  I deliberately left out some crucial information but, I did so to help point out the difficulties in conclusively researching these pieces.  We don’t always have the luxury of a maker tag or some other identifying mark, so it’s crucial to know the distinctions promoted by specific brands.  While the buckboard shown was indeed made and marketed under the Studebaker umbrella, it was sold as part of their “World Vehicles” or World Buggy Company brand in South Bend.  These buggies, carriages, surreys, and spring wagons were typically positioned as a quality brand but they were more competitively priced. 

Studebaker called this specific vehicle… a Prospector’s Buckboard.  The image came from a century-plus-old catalog distributed through the Studebaker Bros. Company of California with offices in San Francisco. It’s just one of numerous buckboard styles and names that were created by horse-drawn vehicle firms throughout the U.S.  The complications involved in these studies are why we continue to have such a strong focus on acquiring significant amounts of original, primary source materials covering western vehicles.  It’s what consistently sets the Wheels That Won The West® Archives apart and it’s allowed us to assist countless individuals, collectors, businesses, museums, writers, and enthusiasts the world over.

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