Serial No. 18339
Brewster & Co.
The char-à-banc was so named by French builders because the seats
are placed across the carriage more or less at the same height as the
drivers seat. About 1844, King Louis Philippe presented a char-à-banc
to Queen Victoria. British builders copied and modified the design.
Large public versions came to be built, sometimes having seats wide
enough to carry four persons, and these were used for sight-seeing tours.
In common parlance in Britain they were known as sharrybangs
or sharrers. A private char-à-banc was built with
the seats almost as high as the roof seats on a coach, being mounted
on a long, boxlike body. Perhaps for this reason, American builders
called this sporting version a roof-seat break. It was built
in various sizes by the leading American builders and came to be used
with a pair, unicorn, or a four-in-hand to take parties of friends to
race-meetings or other sporting events.
This break was built to the order of Harry Hamlin of Buffalo, New York,
and Mr. Seabrook found it, in about 1954, in poor condition near Monmouth,
New Jersey. New wheels and other restoration work were needed, and at
first it was fitted with electric battery-operated drum brakes to the
rear wheels. It was difficult to devise a method of applying these brakes
gradually, and the shock of sudden application was found to put too
much stress on the spokes of the large wheels. Eventually the original
axles and rim brakes were replaced in about 1974.
Brewster & Co. of Broadway and 47th Street, New York. This type
of break became popular in the 1890s and is one of several exclusive
Brewster designs. It has no perch and is hung on elliptic springs in
front and a combination of side- and cross-springs at the rear. It can
be used with a pair of horses or a four-in-hand.