Curator’s Corner

How Much Can a Horse Pull?

We get asked this question in the museum quite frequently. How much can a horse pull? The general rule of thumb is about three times its body weight under ideal conditions. The average horse weighs about 1000 lbs so 3000 lbs can be pulled on flat roads. The weight ratio changes based on various conditions. In hilly country, the ratio changes to about 2 to 1 and in very bad road conditions (sand or mountains) that ratio can become 1

The “Bell” of the Ball: Sleigh Bells

There were many types of bells used on horse-drawn sleighs back in the 19th century. There were of course the “jingle bells” or “crotals” that we now keenly associate with Christmas–the round, enclosed bell that contains a captured “jinglet”–but there were also open bells with a fixed clapper, and chimes of all shapes and varieties. These bells had more purpose than merely the romantic effect and beautiful sound: Snow-covered streets with sleighs whispering behind a horse made very little noise,

Curator: The Modern Renaissance Man

In the midst of a recent research rabbit hole, an entertaining post came to light: this delightfully snarky letter by one of the trustees of the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, written in 1870, casting aspersions on a particular candidate’s aptitude for curatorial work. Here is Sir Richard Southey’s brief description of the ideal museum curator: “The Curator must be a man of active habits, possess a practical knowledge of taxidermy (essential in our institution), must

Nobody’s Gonna Snow On Our Parade: Sleigh Runners

So, it’s 1895 and your family is living on $300 to $400 a year. You own a buggy and one horse; you can’t afford a second vehicle, especially a rarely used sleigh. Oh no, it’s snowing and you need to make a run to town for supplies! What to do… what to do!?  Get yourself some sleigh/sled runners! Take off them ol’ buggy wheels and strap on the runners–convert that ol’ buggy into a lean, mean snow machine! LOL! Seriously,

Buggy Maintenance 101!

Did you know that a buggy wrench was the only tool needed to assemble your new buggy back in the 1890s? Often, buggies and other vehicles were ordered from catalogs; in fact, you could order a new buggy from the Sears catalog back in 1895 for $29.95. That buggy would be delivered to your home (not by Amazon) and all you needed to do was uncrate it, find your buggy wrench, and put it together. That little wrench fit your