A Bit of History
The late Miss Helen Brown at one time lived with her family at “Laurelbank” a 69-acre farm off Pleasant Street in Lunenburg. This doll buggy or carriage with which she and her sisters played was given to them by their mother's cousin. It was the only doll carriage with which the Brown girls played as children. Helen Brown later donated it to the Lunenburg Historical Society.
The carriage was manufactured about 1870 by Joel Addison Hartley Ellis, who founded Vermont Novelty Works in the 1850’s near Springfield, Vermont. Ellis is famed not only for such carriages, for which he earned the nickname “Cab Ellis”, since he was also an inventor who developed and patented thirteen different articles including a steam shovel, and the collectible Joel Ellis doll, the first to have jointed arms and legs.
In 1858 Ellis set up a new factory in Springfield to cater to a new class of consumers – children. American child-rearing habits were changing, especially in newly paved cities, where a fashion for push carriages, or “cabs,” took off among the rich who had servants to push them. The “cab” fad spread to the middle classes, who pushed their own. It was a logical decision to also produce the children’s’ doll buggy concurrently, with an expansion to wagons, log cabins doll furniture and rolling hoops.
You can see this historic artifact and more at the Lunenburg Historical Society, open Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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