Art and Utilitarian Wagons


An interesting story I found in a ‘thrown out’ book is worth

listening to. Every year in May, on the second weekend, we have

the Delaware Arts Festival. Along with this activity, since car

loads of people visit our small town, the Delaware County District

Library holds its Annual Book Sale and fundraiser.

Last year, May, 2013, I found in the book discards’ bin, a lovely

small book titled, “Victorian Horses and Carriages, A Personal

Sketch Book” by William Francis Freelove.

It is serendipity to have found this book amongst ones that were

no longer serving a purpose on the library book shelves. I feel

a kinship with this man from the 1800’s who enjoyed the pastime

of drawing with his pencil, then detailing with his pen and ink,

and adding watercolors to his drawings. The artist, William F.

Freelove, was a solicitor’s clerk who lived from 1846 until 1920.

He was a Quaker and had six children. One way he liked to relax

and entertain his family, was producing pleasant drawings of a

variety of horses, carts and carriages.

William would observe passers-by in their utility carts and wagons

in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.

By 1873, he had captured over 70 drawings in his fine collection.

They apparently were tucked away, for ‘safe keeping.’

The best part of the story is that one hundred years passed, when

finally the horse drawn carriages, carts and wagons’ illustrations

were discovered; neglected in a dusty old attic. There was a box

found holding his precious collection of drawings. I agree with the

preface of the published book of his drawings that calls this a

“charming collection.”

The book, filled with the ‘found’ illustrations, was finally

published in 1979, by the Clarkson N. Potter, Inc./Crown Publishers.

This was printed by the Lutterworth Press in London, England. There

is no mention of where the book sale proceeds go to. I wonder if

there are descendants of William F. Freelove who benefit from this

publication of his art?

There is a picture of a pocket watch drawing, with William’s photo,

along with the initials, “W.F.F.” and the year of “1868.” Although

the watch’s enclosed date would make him only 22, he has a long,

but neatly trimmed, white beard and his face seems like quite a bit

older man. His face doesn’t seem to reflect his artistic nature,

because it appears quite stern. I have read that intaglios and old

photographs were serious, a tradition of capturing faces not smiling,

during this period of time.

William lived 74 years, with no remarks of his family having health

issues or reason for his not publishing his drawings. They were solely

created to amuse and entertain his family and friends. They never were

framed and put on the walls of his family home.

Thank goodness for attics, dry basements and cubby holes! For art

is found within these places. Sometimes people knocking down walls

will find newspapers and other hidden treasures, too.

I delight in looking at these intricately detailed drawings with

such unique names and uses of each utilitarian vehicle. William

also drew different kinds of carriages, like a “Brougham Carriage.”

(Several include the word, “waggon” with two ‘g’s’ included in

their old-fashioned spellings.)

Each vehicle is being pulled by horses. Here are some of my

favorite ones, which are so intriguing in their specific uses.

1. Miller’s wagon. (This looks like a hay wagon, to me!)

2. Plate glass wagon. (This is a long, narrow wagon.)

3. Tallow chandler’s cart. (I assume the candle maker’s cart?)

4. Brewer’s Dray. (This has barrels of alcohol with “X’s” on them.)

5. Fish Monger’s Cart. (This is smaller.)

6. Piano Cart. (This is larger!)

7. Three horse omnibus. (This is a double decker vehicle with

passengers, including gentlemen wearing tall hats on it.)

His collection has 66 other drawings and would be quite fun to have

copies or prints to put up in a child’s room. They are very detailed

and colorful, too. I am so glad that I found a twice-discarded art

compilation for my own private collection of books!

On the final page of the book, there is a simple verse, addressing

the owners of horses:

“Uphill, urge me not.

Downhill, hurry me not.”

William Francis Freelove gave us a valuable contribution to the

art world, along with depicting the history of utilitarian forms

of transportation. I enjoy the period of time when horse drawn

vehicles, especially carriages, were prevalent. My grandchildren

like the 4 inches by 6 inches’ size of the little book, carrying

it around and studying the drawings. Interesting how it was put

away, first by the artist and his family. Then, the library chose

to throw it in the ‘discards bin.’

Some may say, “Their loss, my gain.”


17 responses »

  1. I love this one, Robin. I wonder with you where the profits go because of the discover and publishing of his work a full 100 years later. And that last verse should still be heeded by everybody in life, in a car, on a bike, using their feet, for uphill and downhill ventures.

    • Glad this one ‘hit the spot’ for your enjoyment! You have awesome posts, enjoyed the one where you had a telephone interview with “Mister B.B. King!” Great stuff, Mark! Hope you have a good rest of the week, try not to eat too many pieces of your Easter candy. Hope you get a chance to go out and play golf soon, too! Practice makes perfect, hahaha!

    • Thanks, Beth! It is nice to find things like hidden treasures, among the discards… It seems to be appreciated in its new home. Glad it has a little book jacket since my youngest one, Makyah, (otherwise known as Kyah so I don’t say too many “M’s’) spilled yogurt on it! Smiles, Robin

  2. I love this, Robin and what a treasure you discovered in William Francis Freelove’s sketch book.
    “Thank goodness for attics, dry basements and cubby holes! For art is found within these places.” I love this! I’m dying to write a story about a woman who discovers diaries and photo albums hidden in an attic.
    Happy Easter to you and your family!

    • I am so glad that you are inspired and I want to read the story you write about a woman who discovers diaries and photo albums hidden in an attic, Jill! Thanks for the kind wishes, too! ‘Back at you!’ Smiles, Robin

    • Thanks so much for checking this and liking it! I appreciate the compliments! I never feature photographs. Just decided to share my words to ‘paint’ pictures instead. I like wordpress for this but also, like you, love photos and original art and poetry… Smiles, Robin

    • Thank you so much for sharing your new location! I will be gone over the weekend, intended to leave from the library about 20 minutes ago, to see my Mom. (Cleveland, Ohio) then back to my son’s and see my family with grandchildren here in Delaware, only 2 1/2 hours trip there and then back again on Sunday. Life is so fast paced! Take care and have a Happy Easter! Smiles, Robin

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