This impressive town coach embellished with the gilt-brass coats-of-arms of the House of Wettin was almost certainly commissioned by King Johann (1801-1873) in 1870 for use at one of the Dresden Royal residences. As the signatures on the hub caps indicate it was supplied by the Dresden-based coachbuilder Carl Heinrich Gläser (1831-1903), the same year he received his Royal appointment.
In 1864 Carl Heinrich Gläser (1831-1903) acquired a saddler’s workshop in the Rampischen Strasse, Dresden, close to the Frauenkirch, and as was common practice for saddlers at the time he also oversaw the construction of coaches and carriages, outsourcing the specialist skills he was unable to fulfill such as metalwork, gilding and painting to other local craftsmen. His first commission is recorded in 15 August 1864 and within a year the Master of the Royal Stables (Oberstallmeister) was listed amongst his clients. So delighted were the Royal family with the quality of his work that he was appointed Royal Coachbuilder in 1870 and in 1892 King Albert of Saxony (1828-1902) awarded him the Albertine Cross (Albrechtskreuz) for his services to the state. As with many coachbuilders Gläser and his younger business partner Emil Heuer (1857-1934) were severely affected by development of the automobile at the turn of the century, but they were determined for their business to succeed, adapting with the times, and went on to produce car bodies into the 1920s for companies such as Horch, Steyr, Adler, Bugatti, BMW, Benz.
Before the decline in the coach industry though records state that the Gläser Company supplied the Royal house with one hundred and twenty-five carriages and seven sleighs, although the exact number is unknown as some of the company’s record books were destroyed in the Second World War. However, those records that do survive in the Dresden State Archives (Hauptstaatsarchiv, Dresden) list that two ‘Berline’ carriages were supplied in 1870, one of which is offered here for sale.
From the mid-18th century the Royal carriages were kept at the Stallgebäude or Royal stables close to Residenzschloss in the centre of Dresden, until 1876 when they were put on public display in the newly created Historisches Museu, despite still being used by the Royal family. After the dissolution of the German monarchy in 1918 fifteen of the carriages, including this one, became the property of the Dresden State Art Collection (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) remained where they were. One black and white photograph from the State Art Collection archive shows the carriage in 1925. In spite of the concentrated Allied bombing campaign inflicted on Dresden during the Second World War, which destroyed much of the city, it seems miraculous that only a hearse, a luggage carriage and the replica of the Coburg ceremonial carriage from the collection were damaged. In 1949 with the creation of the German Democratic Republic the collection was given to the GDR State where this coach has remained ever since.
We would like to thank Dana Runge at the Dresden Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum) for her assistance with researching the history of the carriage.
We would also like to thank Michael Kimber, Carriage & Coach Consultant for his assistance in cataloguing the coach.