Friday, October 19, 2012

Mr. Vanderbilt's HOUSE and COLLECTION - Offices & Stables

***Click HERE to view the introduction to this book.*** 

 ***Photos and text from Mr. Vanderbilt's House and Collection, described by Edward Strahan pseudo Earl Shinn - the Holland Edition published in 1883.***


 LIKE every other part of the establishment, the Offices and Stables are adapted to their ends, with a completeness that can no farther go, but without one touch of luxury that is only for display. A glimpse of the Pantry has already been given, looking somewhat like an ordinary jeweler's shop, at least when the fireproof safes in both their upper and lower stories are open, and acting the part of its own watchman by the completeness of its burglar-braving armor. The culinary arrangements are correspondingly exhaustive, giving the last word of thoroughness, and occupying a large airy hall below-stairs. In the design forming the headpiece***above*** to this chapter is seen the "battery," in graded coppers, like the helmets of slain knights in an armory; the refrigerators, with transparent doors; the
cauldron of hot water, bearing a general resemblance to Trajan's column; the mortars, the strainers, the tin-kitchens; and all of these accessory to the mighty alembic, the stove with as many gates as Thebes, occupying a wall of the room, and making the heart of the Chef to laugh with the thought that here at last he has Opportunity that is a match for Ability.


The stabling, only a street or two away, is certainly luxurious, but entirely without affectation. In a handsome stone building, two stories in height, are found the accommodations for coaches and animals, divided into three principal stables. In the design of the view into the stable on this page is seen the skylighted court, surrounded by a walk of tan, in which the horses can be exercised in any weather. In the centre of this apartment, on a flooring of cement, are collected some of the lighter trotting-wagons, interesting for the time they have made, in famous encounters, when attached to the traces of trotters whose exploits are famous the world over. Wagon-trotting, the American specialty, has recorded some of its white-letter days in these filmy vehicles, the masterpieces of an art unknown in other countries. In these wheels, invisible in action, the wonderful Yankee wood, the hickory, seems to realize the ideal of tenacity unencumbered by weight. As an example of the lightness in carriage-architecture attained by American builders, 

it may be mentioned that the foremost wagon seen in the engraving weighs but fifty-nine pounds; it is more readily lifted than many a chair in the mansion; when the shafts are attached, it flies after the racer without encumbering him, and the driver gets the best time out of his horse without having to fork him like a jockey, but comfortably sitting in a cushioned scat. It was made by Charles Caffrey & Co., of Camden. Beyond is seen the no-top road-wagon, one hundred and seventeen pounds with the shafts, made by J. B. Brewster; in the background, same maker, is a topped road-wagon, weighing one hundred and fifty pounds. ***Trivia Question - Make the connection to Mona Strader Schlesinger Bush Williams von Bismarck de Martini.*** 

The favorite horses of the stud are Aldine, Early Rose and Maud S. It may be mentioned that the cost of Aldine was fifteen thousand dollars, and that of Early Rose thirteen thousand and twenty-five, making the original value to the proprietor of this famous team twenty-eight thousand and twenty-five dollars. The boulevards leading from the city along the Hudson have been daily witnesses of the exploits of this unrivaled pair of trotters. Maud S., having often been allowed to compete in public races, is still more widely famous, her time in many a hard-won match having become historical, whether for short spurts or for a long stay. One of her greatest triumphs was for staying-power. It was in Kentucky, where the heroine often spends her summers, attracted by the taste of the famous blue grass; on the occasion mentioned, Maud trifled at first, and lost three heats, "tied" the fourth, and finally won the fifth, sixth and seventh, leaving at a distance of eighty yards behind her the horse which at first was in the van. Maud S. is the fastest trotter the world has known, having made a mile in 2 minutes 93/4 seconds.  Her fame is therefore quite unrivaled  and we can well understand the desire of the patent-medicine firm which offered the proprietor twenty-five thousand dollars for the mere privilege of changing her name from Maud to that of the nostrum made in the establishment, an invitation that was the sincerest form of quackery. Since the above was written Maud S. has been sold to Mr. Robert Bonner, the New York publisher.   The owner of these steeds is well known as probably the best driver on the road, as was, in an earlier day, his father before him; and a taste for choice horse-flesh is combined in his case with far-sighted views on breeding and maintenance, which have long been an active influence in the improvement of the strain in the United States.

The stabling consists of twelve box-stalls, in the more ample of which the high-strung animals just named walk about without any kind of fastening, and converse with their favorite grooms when in an affable mood. Six ordinary stalls accommodate the heavier coach-horses, separated by columns of bronze and trimmed with the most tasteful carpeting of woven straw. The floors are of narrow waxed plank, as is the ceiling, through which the food descends by a mechanical contrivance. These stalls, where the principal animals have their apartments indicated by engraved door-plates, occupy the building seen through the doorway of the exercising court; a fuller view of them is yielded by one of the photogravure plates. Another plate shows the carriage-house alongside, with a row of family coaches of all kinds; here are the blankets of Aldine, the Rose and Maud, merely to feel which would make a sick coachman well; here are the various fur robes, the arsenal of whips, shafts and tongues, in cabinets or ranged along the wall. The polished floor, of variegated woods, is usually covered by breadths of thick matting. In this coach-house, which is hung with appropriate pictures, is to be found an elaborate whip, perhaps the most artistic ever made, offered to the proprietor by some of his friends, and showing on its ivory handle a cameo portrait of himself, with trains of cars, ocean steamers, etc., chasing each other along the stock, as an indication that the time obtained when the whip is under use is immensely superior to mere time of steam or wind. 

Click HERE to see where the stables stood.

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