Alva Smith started his toy-making business on the Smith family farm in Guildford, Vermont. Sanford A Smith was his eldest son, and after Sanford returned from the Civil War, the family expanded manufacturing. Sanford and his wife built a house next to the first-known factory, which was built on Guildford’s Broad Brook in 1872. Soon afterward, they moved their manufacturing into Brattleboro because of its proximity to the railroad, making it easier to receive supplies and ship finished products.
The company was plagued by fires because of all the sawdust that built up from the making of wooden toys. After its last fire, in 1899, the Smith family was unwilling to rebuild on its own. Since it was the second largest employer in town, a number of investors were willing to help rebuilt the plant, reopening the company as S.A Smith Company, with Sanford Smith still in control.
– ‘Coasting on Wheels’, by Gordon Westover, page 93
The term ‘Express’ was used by various manufacturers for their wagons, but this particular style of lettering was used by S.A Smith Co of Brattleboro, Vermont. Their ‘SAS’ logo is distinct, and can be seen to the right of the ‘Express’ name. The style of the removable boards to the sides and front also appear to be unique to this company.
1880s SAS Express Wagon
built by S.A Smith Co, Brattleboro, Vermont, USA
OVERALL LENGTH: 78″
HEIGHT: 22″ (without side boards fitted)
BODY LENGTH: 36.5″
WHEELS: 15″ FRONT; 21″ REAR
The Express wagon in the photograph below is identical to the wagon featured here except for the curvature of the handle.
Apart from damage to one of the side boards, this wagon is in extremely good condition.
‘EXPRESS’ WAGONS FROM OTHER MANUFACTURERS
The above ‘Express’ has a metal body, while the wooden one below is dated 1886.
The photograph below was taken in a photographer’s studio; photographers usually had a variety of props in stock, such as bicycles and tricycles or wagons.
This wagon is a scaled-down version of a full-size adult horse wagon. Like the horse wagon, the tail-piece is removable (above and below)
GENDRON EXPRESS WAGON
UNDERSIDE of THE SAS EXPRESS WAGON
‘EXPRESS’ WAGONS ADVERTISEMENTS FROM OTHER MANUFACTURERS
FULL-SIZE WAGON, FOR COMPARISON