President Lincoln's Carriage 

Studebaker National Museum

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

Lincoln's BaroucheThe Barouche, a four passenger vehicle which had evolved from an earlier two wheeled form known as a Caleche, was built by Wood Brothers of New York, one of the leading carriage manufacturing companies during the mid 19th century. The coachman driven Barouche or Caleche was purchased by President and Mrs. Lincoln in 1864 who were subsequently reimbursed with monies appropriated by Congress. This vehicle was rumored to have been the favorite of Mrs. Lincoln. The vehicle was selected as the carriage to be used to transport the Lincolns and their guests, Major Henry Rathbone and Miss Clara Harris, to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln's assassination. The carriage was later sold by Robert Lincoln to a private citizen who used the vehicle for a number of years before it was purchased by the Studebaker Brothers Company in the late 19th century and placed in its private collection.

PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

During Treatment: Over-paint RemovalThe carriage was in unstable condition having sustained numerous damages during its period of use, after it had served as a presidential vehicle. The body and running gear had been completely over painted in black, the interior textiles replaced, and the leather top replaced with an early 20th century vinyl fabric. Numerous body panels were fractured or split and the proper right front elliptical spring was broken. Further examination revealed several rounds of repainting, repair and/or partial replication of original leather components.

TREATMENT

Before Treatment: Split Body PanelOnce received into the studios of B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc., the carriage was digitally photographed, thoroughly examined, and documented prior to treatment. Numerous minute paint samples were removed from the carriage body panels and running gear for microscopic cross-sectional analysis. Examination of these samples revealed a history of repainting and re-striping of the running gear and at least three applications of paint and varnish to the wooden body panels. Selective removal of the later paints provided “windows” which permitted viewing of the earliest, if not original, paint and stripe decoration on the running gear and body. The carriage body was found to have been dark green with black trim; the running gear had originally been black with a broad burgundy stripe, flanked with fine yellow striping. All over paint and varnish layers were removed from the carriage body. Most importantly, historical research indicated the existence of paint and gilt monograms. Selective removal of over paint and varnish removal uncovered the intertwined letters “AL”, confirming period descriptions of the Lincoln carriage. All other surfaces were cleaned and areas of actively flaking paint were consolidated using reversible synthetic resins. Areas of damage were stabilized and losses in the painted surfaces were filled and inpainted using reversible fillers and pigments. All leather components were stabilized and missing components replicated using remnants of the originals. All fragments were stabilized and retained for the Studebaker archives. The replaced folding top covering and interior textiles were cleaned, stabilized, and retained as parts of the conserved vehicle. Upon completion, the carriage was delivered to the Studebaker National Museum for the beginning of the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration. This carriage was selected to be included as part of a Save America's Treasures Grant secured by the Studebaker National Museum.


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