Thursday, December 8, 2011

Regency Era Carriages - Ackermann's Repository

Ackermann's Repository was well known in Regency times for showing what was new 
and cutting edge in fashions and even one's mode of transportation was seen
as a fashion accessory, back in the day. 

On occasion there were be colorized plates and articles about the latest in carriages 
and there was even one depiction of an Imperial sledge.  
I thought this sled had a very Christmas feel to it so I've selected it as the showpiece of this post. 

An Imperial Sledge published in Ackermann's Repository in the  April 1816 Issue
There were not a lot of colorized plates depicting carriages in Ackermann's Repository;
so I will also include the written descriptions for each so you can see them all as they
were originally viewed by the British public 200 years ago.


1809  - Elliott's Patent Eccentric Landaulet or Chariot - Ackermann's Plate 32
 A Landaulet was the sporty version of a Landau

Mr. Elliott's new design was a more compact and lighter conveyance;
which reduced the strain on the horses. 
Other innovations made this model turn tighter and it was less likely to tip over.

It's fun to see how this Carriage and others like it of the day were far superior to anything
that had been produced in the century or two prior to it.  

Wouldn't they be even more surprised at how far vehicles have come in 
the 200 years since this article was published.

1809 - Patent Landau - Ackermann's Repository
A Landau is a four wheeled "convertible" carriage - it has a top that can be raised or lowered.

Mr C.L. Birch obtained a patent for improving the construction of roofs
and upper parts of all carriages with "convertible" tops. 

These improvements allowed for a more dependable vehicle by eliminating many of the aesthetic and physical issues with previous versions.  The new and improved Landau is better looking, more secure, easier to convert from one position to the other. Less likely to be penetrated by water or to have issues with standing water on the roof when it rains.  Therefore allowing it to function as a more multipurpose carriage than it has previously been.

It's kind of interesting to see the evolution of "convertibles" 200 years ago.
I remember all the issues I had with my 1968 Camaro convertible and how very different
convertibles are now in 2011.  So I'm sure this was a revolutionary improvement
on a Landau back in Regency times.  

1816 - Imperial Sledge from Vienna - Ackermann's Repository
A Sledge, Sled, Sleigh is basically an open carriage on runners
that is used to travel over snow or ice.

Ackermann's publish this account of a Royal sled party that took place in 
Vienna the previous winter in their April 1816 issue.
(That's quite a delay in getting a human interest story in print).

Personally, I did not find this account to be overly interesting and since the account
was published well over a year from the time it took place; I have to wonder 
if they needed to fill some space in the April 1816 issue.  

One thing is for sure - I love the image of this Regency era royal sled 
and think it makes a wonderful Christmas image and could not resist adding it to this post.


1818 brought in a new technological advancement in carriages
The Moveable Axle

This was the wave of the future for coach building and Ackermann's patented and launched 
a strong campaign for this new innovation starting in their March 1818 issue.

Page 163 and164 of that issue begins by stating the 
Advantages for the Moveable Axel for Carriages.

Now that Mr Ackermann has made his point as to the advantages of the 
moveable axle for carriages, we get a bit of history and mechanical information 
on this new innovation in coach building.

1818 - Ackermann's Patent Movable Axle for Carriages (March 1818 issue)
The above print shows a Landaulet (the sporty smaller version of a Landau) 
however the article is really about a new movable axle.
It's interesting piece would probably be the Regency equivalent of a "Car and Driver" article.

This Moveable axle was the cutting edge of technology and it's interesting to see the amount
of space and detail that was devoted to this patent in this 1818 issue of Ackermann's

 These are the Three diagrams that go along with the article.  
They are the prints refered to on page 237.

Fig 1 - Front View of Axle Tree-Bed

Fig 2 - Plan showing the short turn allowed by the movable axle

Fig 3 - Side view with body a barouche body on it
  My guess is that this article was geared more toward the male readers of Ackermann's but I'm sure an enterprising lady or two used the information to make interesting diner conversation using it.

1819 - Light Phaeton with Movable Axles - plate 3 (July Issue)

 The Phaeton was the true "sports car" if its day. 
It was well sprung, light, fast and could be extremely dangerous.

The new phaeton with the movable axles were much safer than its previous 
counterpart; allowing them to safely come back into fashion.

 You can tell that Ackermann's really stands behind this new movable axle
due to the frequency he published articles about various carriages using them.

1819 -  Light Phaeton with Movable Axles - plate 28 (November issue)

Another success story of Pheatons being built using the new Moveable Axles.

I love the part in the article where they state that some coach builders were 
loosing business due to their refusal to use the new movable axle.
Even in 1819 you had to move with the times or get left behind.

1820 - Barouche with Ackermann's Patent Moveable Axles
 A Barouche was a leisure, summer vehicle with  a soft retractible top.  
There were  double seats on the inside that faced each other.

Here is another push to convince the public and coach-makers that
the Movable Axle is the future for all carriages... And Ackermann was right - it was.

Ackermann's makes one final push for the movable axle stating it's safety, durability, economy and convenience.  They also reference their other articles previously published on the new moveable axle.
(All the referenced articles are on this post - so you get to see them all)
The interesting footnote in this story was that the moveable axle is having an impact on the military

The above article also references a Gift of a Droschi from the Emperor of 
Russia (highlighted in blue); which can be seen below.  
Oh yes, and the droschi also has the new moveable axle.

1820 - Russian Droschi with Moveable Axle
This carriage was a bit different since it had a front and a side-seat.


And this is the extent we have images and information regarding Regency carriages from Ackermann's Repository.  The majority all pertain to the new moveable axle and Ackermann's wish to showcase this new innovation.  It appears once it became widely used in coach building the articles on it faded away.

But I think it is a fascinating glimpse into technological improvements during the regency era.
 It was also interesting for me (when reading between the lines) that there was a decline in phaeton sales and use due to their unsafe nature.  I already knew they were a dangerous vehicle but I was a bit surprised that they went out of fashion for a time due to this.  I just always thought there were more brave bucks out there then was probably practical.

I hope you have enjoyed this interesting glimpse into the Regency.

Merry Christmas and Glad Tidings to you all!

Thanks for visiting me here at

If you have enjoyed seeing these images from Ackermann's Repository 
and would like the opportunity to see and read an original for yourself 
they are are available on line at

Click HERE then choose the volume you are interested in.
You can then see and read them online or download 
them to your computer for future reference.


  1. Hello!
    Very interesting! My husband like the history of old cars. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad your husband found the post interesting Sylvie. My guess is the gents of Regency England did too; especially since the movable axle revolutionized coach building from that point forward.

    I can only imagine how many debates and bets the men of the day had over this. And I'm glad to find others, like myself found it interesting too.


  3. Evelyn, I'm ecstatic to discover your blog, thanks to Amy Pfaff and Nancy Mayer of The Beau Monde! I'm so excited about the dresses an carriages, many of which I haven't seen before. And seeing how the moveable axle actually worked is very enlightening.

    I share a common interest with you in altered art, and I love the way you're combining backgrounds and fashion plates. I've done some of this too, especially in one of my Regencies which I published online, and which I now need to update for Kindle and Nook publication. So I'm hoping you wouldn't mind sharing from your collection. I'll happily give you credit in my acknowledgements.

  4. Hi Delle - I'm so glad you are enjoying my Ackermann Repository posts. I was thrilled to share these 200 year old images and get this large collection of images back out in the public so others could see and use them too. I just thought they were too fantastic to keep to myself.

    Please feel free to use them, share them and help make them more visible so others have access to these amazing images. My hope is that they get a second life and become even more popular today then they were in Regency times.

    I would be most appreciative of credit and a link back should you use them.

    Thanks for letting me know you also like my creations using these lovely images; I'm having a blast playing with them and I hope many others will too - so enjoy to your hearts content!

    Grins and Giggles,

  5. Evelyn, I stumbled across your site, I think by googling Regency fashion plates, and I'm so thrilled I did. You've created a wonderful resource for lovers to the period, especially since complete collections of these plates can be so hard to find online. Thank you for taking the time to post these wonderful images!

  6. Hi Biz - I'm glad you found me too.
    Ya, I could not resist posting these images once I had them.

    It has taken over 6 months to get them posted; and I still have some more left to do - but those will have to wait till the new year (grins).

    Thanks for letting me know you like them. It confirms that the time and effort was very much worth it; since others are truly enjoying them too.

    Best Wishes in the New Year,