Art Collections: Paintings

Park Drag; a Tabletop Centerpiece with Custom-made Elkington & Co. Mahogany Carrying Case, c. 1910

Elkington & Co. , (English, c.1910)
sterling silver on a marble and wooden base, 17 1/2 x 41 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches (excluding base)
Purchased with funds donated by: Hector Alcalde, Helen K. Groves, Manuel H. Johnson, Jacqueline B. Mars and Jacqueline L. Ohrstrom, 2011
2011.30.43

Bears four hallmarks, from right to left: capital letter P, leopard’s head, lion passant, and A&W

This highly-detailed, early 20th century (pre-World War I) silver coach depicts a team of Hackneys pulling a park drag carriage. This type of carriage, which is a lighter, more elegant version of the road coach, is also known as a private coach for personal driving.

Intended for display as a centerpiece, it is the largest known tabletop decoration of

this subject matter. The solid silver horses were cast by the lost wax method, and the coach was made with a combination of cast and sheet silver and silver wire. The object represents hundreds of hours of labor by expert silversmiths and finishers, and the quality points to production by an important, large firm. This was likely the great Elkington & Co. of London which was known for large silver centerpieces. While the coach itself does not bear the hallmarks of this firm, the early 20th Century (pre-World War I) custom-made case was crafted by the company.

Accounts point to Alfred G. Vanderbilt (1877 - 1915) as having commissioned the object. An international coaching enthusiast, he was among a select group of affluent participants who formed clubs to uphold the tradition of coaching as a sport.  The piece was acquired by Mr. George Mossman around 1950. Mossman was a member of the esteemed English Coaching Club and an expert carriage maker. In 1957, with a resurgence in driving as a leisure activity, Mossman was among the founding members of The British Driving Society. 

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