As I’ve shared numerous times before,the early horse-drawn vehicle industry was a complex and often complicated mixof vehicles, styles, uses, construction, and regional preferences. In our continuing work to showcase some ofthe modern-day obstacles to authoritative study of the vehicles, we issued afriendly challenge last week to identify the name applied to a particularwestern buckboard marketed by Studebaker. We had quite a few page views but, unfortunately, no guesses wereventured.
Okay. Now comes a small confession. Ideliberately left out some crucial information but, I did so to help point outthe difficulties in conclusively researching these pieces. We don’t always have the luxury of a makertag or some other identifying mark, so it’s crucial to know the distinctionspromoted by specific brands. While thebuckboard shown was indeed made and marketed under the Studebaker umbrella, itwas sold as part of their “World Vehicles” or World Buggy Company brand inSouth Bend. These buggies, carriages,surreys, and spring wagons were typically positioned as a quality brand butthey were more competitively priced.
Studebaker called this specific vehicle…a Prospector’s Buckboard. The image came from a century-plus-oldcatalog distributed through the Studebaker Bros. Company of California withoffices in San Francisco. It’s just one of numerous buckboard styles and namesthat were created by horse-drawn vehicle firms throughout the U.S. The complications involved in these studiesare why we continue to have such a strong focus on acquiring significantamounts 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 countlessindividuals, collectors, businesses, museums, writers, and enthusiasts theworld over.
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