Since we mentioned Goold’s auto bodies yesterday and opined as to the likelihood they were connected to the old Albany carriage and sleighmaker by the name of Goold, we’d be remiss not to talk about the Albany sleigh.
This Forbes article from several years back lays nothing less than the central image of Christmas, Santa Claus arriving on a fancy sleigh, to the worksmanship of James Goold, whose designs for “cutters” added an elegance to a previously workmanlike object, and created perhaps the first luxury vehicles not owned by royalty.
James Goold, a native of New England, opened a coach factory in Albany on April 20, 1813. “From 1817 to 1831, stage-coaches were the main features of this concern,” Howell wrote. “When the Albany and Schenectady Railway was built, this firm built its first cars.” Goold’s first operation burned to the ground in 1838, but with the assistance of the community, which extended him a five-year loan without interest, which allowed him to rebuild. The new factory was on Union Street betwen Division and Hamilton; Union is now underneath a parking lot near the bus station between Liberty and Green. If you’re the kind who likes wildly detailed tours of 19th century manufacturing facilities (and you’re reading this blog, aren’t you?), then you’ll enjoy this description of Goold’s works.
The Albany sleigh, or Albany cutter, was notable for its rounded body and curved dash, quite apart from boxier earlier designs. A Canadian site says it was once the second most popular winter vehicle in the United States, behind the plainer Portland cutter. And if you are desperate to own this piece of our local history, you’re in luck: The Kringle Sleigh Company says they have eight Albany sleighs in stock.
Goold celebrated 50 years in business in 1863; they morphed into the auto body business that was advertising in 1917, and survived until 1951, as detailed here.