Friday Photo: Carry Me

I’m a little tired today, and it’s made me a bit envious of Queen Charlotte’s mode of transportation. Why walk when you can be carried? Apparently the Queen had four strong men on her staff just to cart her around. This particular sedan chair was made for the Queen in 1763 by Samuel Vaughan and is richly covered in red morocco leather and gilt ornamentation. It is still in the Royal Collection in England, and you can read more about it here.

Sedan chairs were an efficicient mode of transportation in 18th-century cities. They could traverse narrow streets much easier than carriages, and allowed riders to get to their destination without ever having to step outside, as they could fit through doorways. While sedan chairs had a long history in Asia and Europe, they were used in colonial America as well. Supposedly when Benjamin Franklin was in Philadelphia he used a sedan chair to get to Independence Hall. I even found a reference to sedan chairs in Annapolis; in “Side-lights on Maryland History” by Hester Dorsey Richardson (available on Google books), the author asserts that “the streets were not such as to tempt the high bred dames of the period to spoil their French slippers when taking the air, and hence we find in Colonial Maryland the Sedan chair a not uncommon luxury of the Court Circle there.” I’d love to find a primary reference from 18th century Annapolis that mentions traveling by sedan chair – has anyone ever seen one?


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Filed under Friday Photo, History

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