A. T. Demarest & Co.
The word trap was adapted from the English usage as a generic
term for a small pleasure carriage, but in the 1880s, some American
carriage builders used the term with a more specialized meaning, for
a type of phaeton with two seats. The rear seat was reversible, and
when facing to the rear, the tail board could be let down to serve as
a foot board. When facing forward, access to the rear seat was provided
via the front, by having one or both of the front seats made to swing
forward or tip to one side. The occupants of the rear seat were then
truly in a trap, being unable to get out until the front passengers
had left their seats. These small pleasure carriages became something
of a specialty of the carriage makers of Amesbury, Massachusetts.
The hunting trap was bought in June, 1961, from Mr. Ward Melville, the
founder of The Museums at Stony Brook on Long Island. It has suffered
serious damage on more than one occasion when used in driving competitions.
The body is rather high in relation to its width and, being mounted
on four elliptic springs which can have a pronounced rebound action,
it is prone to being thrown over when driven at a fast pace over rough
ground. It was most recently repaired and refurbished by Abner Lapp
of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, in 1979.
Aaron T. Demarest was born in Nyack in the Hudson Valley in 1841. He
learned the trade of carriage building and started his own business
in New York City in 1860. A little later, Gabriel C. Chevalier became
his partner, and the firm was then styled A.T. Demarest & Co. Some
time later, the firm had a showroom at 636 Broadway. The firm of A.T.
& C.B. Demarest took over the New Haven carriage works of Lawrence,
Bradley & Pardee in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1877, and sold carriages
from the Demarest showrooms in New York City. In 1889, the firm moved
to new premises at 335 Fifth Avenue under the name of A.T. Demarest
& Co. They remained in business until about 1911.