Two wheelwrights named J. S. Abbot and Lewis Downing perfected the first Concord Stagecoach in 1826. Their New Hampshire wagon factory became the place where Abbot and Downing would manufacture their Concord Stagecoaches along with over 40 other types of wagons and carriages. Mark Twain once stated, “The Concord Stagecoach was like a cradle on wheels.” The Abbot Downing Company employed thorough braces and a suspension system made of 3 inch leather straps under the coach which gave the ride a swinging motion instead of the jolting up and down of spring suspension. As for the outward appearance the undercarriage was typically painted bright yellow with the coach color being the purchaser’s choice. The typical exterior colors used were scarlet red or green. The window in the door was glazed while the side windows were not. Canvas or leather curtains hung above each window and could be rolled down during bad weather. They had plush interiors that usually consisted of three upholstered bench seats that allowed up to twelve passengers to ride inside. There were also times when it was possible for passengers to ride on top of the coach as well. Between the years of 1827 through 1899 the companies of Abbot and Downing and Sons produced over three thousand Concord Stagecoaches.
Over generations, the Abbot Downing name became known worldwide for ingenuity and long-lasting quality. Wells Fargo commissioned Abbot and Downing to design what would become one of the finest triumphs of the nineteenth century, the Concord stagecoach, and it’s a symbol Wells Fargo still uses to date.
This example, serial number 130, was one of two stagecoaches ordered by Pattison and Ward, of Kalamazoo, Michigan. They were to be finished in red with russet leather upholstery, a damask top and fringe, and loose leather curtains lined in damask, and they were lettered “Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids – Pattison and Ward” along the top roof rail. Extra dusters and carriers for bags were supplied, along with a step pad for the body and a leather driver’s apron.
This is an extremely larger-size coach than others, and it has rooftop seating. It is outfitted with its original lamps, pole, and leader bars, as well as its original strongbox inside. The average coach traveled 5 mph and would run about 60-70 miles a day. This would mean about a full 10-hour day trip to get to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo.
Today it would take less than an hour.