“A plush robe in every buggy” – Thomas Goodall
It may be too soon to admit, but the hot weather and humidity have the museum staff thinking of cooler days. A recent donation to the Lynchburg Museum has inspired thoughts of horse-drawn sleighs, buggies, and carriages.
These Victorian-era modes of transportation are often romanticized during the winter season but imagine what it must have been like, trying to keep warm in a Model T, fording creeks and mud during the cold months. A family would have needed several layers of warm blankets.
A Chase & Company brand carriage robe (also called a “lap robe”) was donated to the Lynchburg Museum by Robert & Agnes Trent of Lynchburg. Mrs. Trent remembers taking a Model-T from Greenville to Midway, North Carolina with her parents, on a route that did involve crossing a creek. The ride was neither smooth nor temperature controlled and there is a very good chance they would have been bundled up under heavy blankets if the weather was chilly.
The Chase robe would have been a luxurious but utilitarian accessory. The blankets were manufactured by Sanford Mills, in Sanford, Maine by Thomas Goodall. They are characterized by plush mohair (angora), bright colors of the Chase brand, and ornamental borders stenciled on the front of the blanket rather than woven into it. The standard size is 48” by 60.”
The Museum’s carriage robe is of three attentive dogs on a small bed, two of which still have their trademark glass eyes. The robe is in remarkable condition and the ornate stenciled green borders are still sharp and bright. Under all of the dyed decorative images, the woven pattern is brown and beige mohair and rather plain. The Trents displayed the carriage robe on their wall as one would a tapestry or a quilt, and it is grand enough to be a work of art.
The robe was originally thought to be from the mid-1920s, but, according to Harland Eastman, President of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society in Sanford, Maine, the animal motif dates the carriage robe to as early as the 1880s. The Historical Society has the largest collection of Chase carriage robes and Eastman has said he has yet to see the same design twice, though many were sold.