During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between the vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from D to K.
Daumont, a la – This was driven by outriders or jockeys and had neither a coach-box or driving seat. It did have a small chest called a coffre situated upon the front gearing. Its name is sometimes appended to various vehicles, such as the Coach à la Daumont or Coupé, à la Daumont. It used four horses, two jockeys, and usually two footmen in the rear. It was introduced under Napoleon I by an eccentric nobleman named the Duke d’Aumont.
Demi-Landau – This was a half Landau and equivalent to the Landaulet. The term was first published in 1796.
Democrat-Wagon – This was a term used in the United States to describe a square-box open wagon, similar to the Buggy. However, it was larger with “two, three, or four movable seatboards on a level, and accommodating at least four, six, or eight passengers.” It acquired its name because of its unassuming and democratic characteristics.
Dennett or Dennett Gig – This was a type of Gig that came into use in England during the early part of the 19th century, around the same time as the Stanhope Gig and Tilbury. It had a variation of the Stanhope suspension, which was mounted on four springs arranged in pairs, shackled together at the ends, and precisely like the mail spring. The Dennett, on the other hand, has three springs (two at the sides and one cross-spring behind). The Dennett was similar in body shape to the Tilbury and the Stanhope. One story about the Dennett is that it was named after one or all of the three of the Dennett sisters (one was a singer and the other two were stage dancers, known only as B., F., and H. Dennett). However, some people claim that the story is improbable.
Depot Wagon – A square-box wagon used for passengers and luggage. It had a removable top that could not be folded down.
Derby Cart – One Frenchman thought that everyone was designing cheap, light vehicles, and so he decided to design a vehicle that was stark and simple. It was described as consisting of
“[plain board] with metal plates bolted on the inside at front and rear to securely attached sides, ends, and floor. The wings over the rear wheels were made from bent wood and … on the nearside was jointed so as to hinge the back rendering access to the rear seat easier.”
Desobligeant – This was a version of the small Chaise and accommodate one passenger. It was common in France in the 1700s. The English equivalent was the “Disobliger.”
Dexter Buggy – A patent version of a buggy that was characterized by its suspension and named for the celebrated trotting horse, Dexter.
Diable – Derivation of the French word that means devil. The Diable was used in France during the late 1700s to describe a vehicle, “which is to the Calèche what the Diligence was to the Berlin: that is to say, it has the front door-pillars cut away above the waist-rail.”
Dickey Coach – This was full round coach that had the driver’s seat hung upon iron loops and separate from the Coach’s body.
Diligence – The Diligence was a Frenchman’s main public conveyance vehicle and called eilwagen (quick-coach) in Germany and schnellpost (quick-post ) in Prussia. The Diligence falls into the category of a Traveling Coach and was used in the 1700 and 1800s to travel long distances throughout continental Europe. It was a solidly built coach pulled by four or more horses. One early description of the diligence coach stated:
“[T]he body of the carriage rests upon large thongs of leather, fastened to heavy blocks of wood, instead of springs, and the whole is drawn by seven horses.” The Diligence was often claimed to be a “species of omnibus, having four places to carry passengers.”
In total, most diligence coaches carried between “fourteen to seventeen persons, exclusive of the conducteur [sic] and the postillions.” One description of it claimed it was composed of three parts:
“1. the front division, called Coupé, shaped like a charlot or post-chaise, holding 3 persons, quite distinct from the rest of the passengers, so that ladies may resort to it without inconvenience, and by securing 3 places to themselves, travel nearly as comfortable as in a private carriage. 2. Next to it comes the …. inside, holding 6 persons, and oppressively warm in summer. 3. Behind this is attached the Rotonde, ‘the receptacle of dust, dirt, and bad company,’ the least desirable part of the diligence.”
The conductor rode on the imperial and was responsible for the passenger’s comfort and the safety of their baggage. When a team of five or more horses was involved, the conductor controlled the rear horses, while the postilions controlled the front horses. For more on the Diligence, click here.
Diligence-Coupée or Diligence coupé en birouche. See Coupé.
Dioropha – A variety of the Landau invented and patented by James Rock of London, England, that emerged as a novelty at the The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations of 1851.
Disobliger – This was the English equivalent of the French “Desobligeant.” The modern term of the 1800s was Sulk, being intended to characterize its one seat feature.
Dog-Cart. Historically and literally a cart for dogs. It was used for shooting purposes to carry hunting dogs. There was also an English “Shooting Phaeton” intended for hunters to shoot from that conveniently carried the guns, the game, and the dogs. The rear seat passengers had a footboard that opened under their feet for access to the dogs. Since that time, Dog-Carts applied to any large and miscellaneous class of two-wheel vehicles. People also used the name to escape the oppressive tax on pleasure carriages, and
“In 1843, the Chancellor the English Exchequer … desirous of throwing a sop to the ever-distressed and discontented agricultural interest, exempted all two wheeled carriages not costing more than £21, from the assessed tax, provided the name of the owner was painted in letters, not less than four inches in length … on a conspicuous part of the vehicle. [Thus,] this exemption created a new and large class of two-wheeled vehicles … under the name of Dog-Carts, Malvern Carts, Leamington Carts, Whitechapels, Norfolk Shooting Carts. The first crop were actual Dog-Carts, constructed to carry four persons (each pair being, instead of vis-à-vis, dos-à-dos) mounted on very high wheels, sometimes called ‘Oxford Bounders,’ with ample room for the conveyance of dogs or luggage.”
By Victorian times, the Dog-Cart was revived as an aristocratic vehicle for gentleman drivers and somewhat in their original form. The Dog-Cart of the 1880s was a two-wheeled vehicle drawn by one horse (unless driven tandem, of which it was considered par excellence). It had a square-box body and accommodated four passengers. The driver and his companions faced the horse, with one or two grooms seated dos-à-dos to them. It was suspended on mail springs, supplied with a mechanical appliance for shifting the body backward or forward to balance the load.
Dog-Cart-Phaeton – This was a Dog-Cart transformed into a Phaeton by mounting the body on four wheels. Examples are the English Surrey-Cart and the Whitechapel-Cart later developed into the Surrey-Wagon and the Whitechapel-Wagon.
Dormeuse-Chariot – This was an old French traveling chariot used prior to the railway days. Its distinguishing characteristic was that it offered sleeping accommodations.
Dos-a-Dos Phaeton – This phaeton had a bracket front, one elliptic spring at the front, and two cross-spring at the rear, suspended on bolsters running parallel to the sides. Seats were dos-à-dos. See Phaeton.
Double-Runner – This was local New England term. It involved two sleds used for coasting. The sleds were surmounted by a plank placed lengthwise upon them, with the front sled pivoted for steering purposes.
Dougherty-Wagon – This was the pioneer wagon of America’s Western Plains used before railway times. It was named after its builder.
Drag – A Four-in-hand Coach for private use.
Dray – A low-hung, strongly constructed vehicle that had either two or four wheels and was used for drawing heavy loads.
Drosky – Also spelled Drosche or Droschke, it was a four-wheeled vehicle used in Russia. It was simply constructed, consisted of a bench extending between the axles, and passengers sat astride, as if using a saddle.
Duc – This was defined as a Pony-Victoria. So, in other words, it was “a cross between the Pony-Phaeton and the Victoria, and may be described either as a Victoria reduced to the dimensions of a Pony-Phaeton, or a Pony-Phaeton having the characteristics of the Victoria, viz., the skeleton or movable boot.” The Duc proper was royal equipage driven by outriders with no boot, “but as commonly used, the skeleton-boot [was] substituted.”
Duc-Phaeton – A Duc that was not driven by outriders or coachmen from the skeleton-boot but rather by its occupant (usually a lady), with an attendant groom riding behind in the rumble.
Dump-Cart – A cart whose body was constructed so that it could be inclined backwards to easily empty its contents. Same as a Tip-Cart.
Duquesa – From the Spanish word meaning Duchess. The Duquesa was built in the 1880s as a full-sized Victoria-Phaeton by Henry Hooker & Co., of New Haven, Connecticut. The miniature version was called a Duquesita.
Elysian Chapel-Cart – A Victorian variety of pleasure cart that was built by James Henderson and Company of Glasgow, Scotland.
Equirotal – A derivation of Latin for equal-sized wheels or wheels of equal height. Invented by an author, inventor, and locomotive engineer William Bridges Adams it had two traits: 1) the front wheels the same size as the rear wheels, and 2) the driver’s seat pivoted with the front axles, thus dispensing with a fifth wheel.
Fantail Buggy – A local term applied to a light form of buggy, whose body was cut down at the top and left a fantail extension at the rear.
Fantailed Gig – See Gig, Fantailed.
Fiacre – This was a general term in France for a public cab. Supposedly, it was named after St. Fiacre or Fiacrius, a son of an Irish King born in the year 600. Seventeenth-century pilgrims traveling to the relics of St. Fiacre adorned their coaches with pictures of him (either outside or inside). Therefore, the coaches were called, voitures de St. Fiacre, which was later shortened to Fiacre.
Float – A four-wheeled wagon or truck, surmounted by a platform and used for public processions. There was also a local term applied in London to a heavy dray.
Flying-Hospital – An ambulance used in war.
Fourgon – An old French luggage vehicle, later used in England before railway days. It usually resembled a Cabriolet body attached to a huge trunk. An attendant had to precede it in a traveling coach and convey the courier and the baggage. By the 1880s, fourgon was used in connection with railways. The equivalent of the American term was Baggage-Car or the English Luggage-Van.
Gadabout – An American version of the pleasure cart.
George-the-Fourth Phaeton – This was an old-fashioned double-suspension Phaeton, with a double perch.
Germantown or Germantown Rockaway – First built in 1816 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, it was named to compliment the town where it was built. It was allied to the Carryall of New England.
German Wagon or Barutsche – The name used in England for the original form of the Barouche, when first introduced from Germany in about 1800. See also Barouche.
Gig – This was a member of the Coach Family. Although unsure of the derivation of this name, it received its name from a contraction of “whirligig,” because similar to the whirligig, the gig whirled rapidly. The term was first applied to two-wheeled vehicles because of their ability to quickly turn around. They were common in England in the 1700s. During that time, they were distinguished from the Chaise because its body hung upon thoroughbraces instead of open ordinary springs. The highest development of the Gig was the fashionable Curricle. After the Curricle, the Gig successively passed through the Cabriotlet, Dennett, Tilbury, and Stanhope forms. In the 1880s, vehicles similar to the two-wheel Cabriolets were called Gigs, and occasionally seen carrying aristocratic gentlemen.
Gig, Dennett – This was a member of the Chaise family and named after the Dennett spring. Two-wheeled vehicles had several problems. Either the motion was unpleasant to passengers or unfavorable to the horse. Thus, the Tilbury, Dennett, and Stanhope suspensions tried to alleviate the problems. The Dennett consisted of three springs, two on the side, to which one cross-spring was shackled. Thus, it was lighter, easier on the horse, and the shaft rested on the side-springs at its front-points. But it was also uncomfortable for passengers because of its unequal motion and if a horse fell, the Dennett was easier to be ejected from than a Stanhope.
Gig, Fantailed – Developed from the Horse-Chair of the 1700s and the predecessor the Chaise of the 1800s, it was a two-wheeled vehicle that was popular in America in the first quarter of the 1800s.
Gig, Gorst – Invented by a Mr. Gorst of Liverpool, England.
Gig, Stanhope – A member of the Chaise Family whose name was derived from Fitzroy Stanhope. The Stanhope Gig, like the Dennett, originated to help solve suspension problems. One description of it follows:
“It rests on two cross-springs, whose ends are suspended from two side-springs. By this means the body is placed at two removes from the concussion; but the shafts, and consequently the horse, are exposed to the whole of it.”
One defect of the Stanhope was that if a horse fell to its knees, there was violent jerk on the front cross-spring and the hind-spring offered no resistance, thereby easily pitching out riders.
Gig, Tub-Bodied – A contemporary vehicle to the Fantailed Gig.
Ginny Carriage – This was a small, strong carriage used by railway laborers.
Gondola – Derived from the Italian word to signify boat, it was so named because of its boat-shaped body that also had a bottom more rounded than the Coach. It was also an old term applied in France, during the early part of the 1700s to a type of Coach that was characterized by its unusual size and could seat a dozen persons.
Gondola-Landau – Same as the Canoe-Landau.
Grasshopper – A variety of the Chaise and Whiskey of 1796 characterized by a different body shape:
“The framings of the body, being much wider, shows more panel, which extends to the shafts at the corners, and are arched up, in an agreeable form, between the bearings; they have a more solid appearance than the Whiskey, and are, on that account, preferred by some persons, and, in particular, by those called Quakers, and for that reason are by some called ‘Quaker’ Chaises’ and by others ‘Serpentine’ or Sweeped-bottom Chaises.”
Growler – This was a slang term applied to London four-wheeled cabs.
Gurney – This was a public cab and a contraction of the Gurney-Cab invented by J.T. Gurney of Boston, Massachusetts.
Hack – A carriage for public hire and an abbreviation of Hackney or Hackney-Coach.
Hackney-Cab – Thought to have originated from the village of Hackney. It was a carriage for public hire. Hackney was formerly applied to a horse let out for hire, “but the first coaches that ran for the conveyance of casual passengers started from Hackney, carrying their fares to London. From this circumstance undoubtedly they came to be called ‘Hackney-Coaches.'” To learn more about Hackney Coaches, click here. The Hackney-Cab was introduced in Paris, under the name of Fiacre.
Hansom or Hansom Cab – See Cab.
Hearse – A funeral coach intended to convey dead bodies to the grave, and its equivalent in French is corbillard and in German, Todten-Wagen.
Hermaphrodite – Around 1800 someone decided to convert a two-wheel cart into a four-wheel wagon.
“Basically the hermaphrodite was created out of an ordinary two wheel tumbrel … and two-wheeled kind of forecarriage with shafts and a high bolster to support a foreladder. The shafts of the cart were secured to the added forecarriage and a pole was secured to both the forecarriage and the underside of the cart of its axle. The top frame was positioned over the top … with its front end support on the high bolster of the forecarriage. This top frame was used to carry the load although it did not cover completely the cart body so that this could still be used for the load.”
Hose-Cart – A fire apparatus that consisted of a reel, supported by two-wheels, on which the hose was carried.
Howell Gig – A form of Gig Phaeton designed in New York in 1872 by C.M. Britton. It was the first vehicle of this pattern built for a celebrated New York photographer named Howell. It was an adaptation of the Gig body with Phaeton gearing and all parts were also generally lightened.
Hub-Runner Sleigh – Same as a Bob-Sleigh.
Ice-Cart – Mistakenly referred to as an Ice-Wagon. However, because it was a cart, it had two wheels, instead of four like an Ice-Wagon.
Ice-Wagon – A wagon that carried ice and possessed four wheels.
Iron-Age Buggy – Introduced in Boston, Massachusetts about 1869, the Iron-Age Buggy’s main characteristic was that it was constructed entirely of metal with the body panels being created from sheet-iron. However, it rattled so much it was quickly abandoned.
Ista – An English vehicle patented by Stanfield.
Jagger-Wagon – Named after its New York maker. It was a square-box buggy or light business wagon. It was hung upon bolsters without springs and with two side-bars or wooden springs inside the body, on which the seat rested.
Jaunting-Car – A light, two-wheeled, open cart.
Job-Wagon – A New England term to describe a light express-wagon hired for jobbing purposes.
Joss – Old local term in New England for a high-back primitive form of a sleigh.
Juggernaut-Car – Derived from the Hindu Jagatnatah, meaning “Lord of the World.” It was a pyramidal vehicle of a Hindu Idol “having its temple at Orissa, under whose moving wheels pilgrims formerly sacrificed themselves.”
Jump-Seat Wagon – Any wagon that had the rear seat-board constructed so that it could be turned over.
Kiritka – A Russian posting vehicle.
Kittereen – This was a vehicle of the 1700s and was a one-horse, two-wheel chaise or buggy, with or without a movable top. It was first mentioned in a New York paper on 22 January 1750 that stated:
“Chaise-Boxes, Chair and Kittereen-Boxes, with all sorts of Wheels and Carriages for the same, are made by James Hallett, on Golden-Hill, at the Sign of the Chair-Wheel; at the most reasonable Rates, with all Expedition.”