1899 J.B. Brewster Buggy. (source: Dream Car Classics Online)
Brewster & Company was an American coachbuilder, active from 1810-1937. Their first known bodywork on an automobile was in 1896, on an electric car, and a gasoline powered car in 1905, on a Delaunay-Belleville chassis. Eventually they would use chassis from a variety of makers. From 1915-1925 and 1934-1935 they produced their own line of opulent and expensive automobiles at their plant in Long Island City.
In 1804 James Brewster became an apprentice to carriage builder Colonel Charles Chapman when he was 16 years old. He considered pursuing a life of military, achieving Lieutenant in the Northampton militia, and ultimately deciding "coachmaker with a competency" sounded better than "General Brewster". James had 30 dollars when he completed his apprenticeship and would head for New York in 1809, but there were delays along the way.
James was exploring New Haven, Connecticut, and had walked into a carriage manufactory. He became journeyman under John Cook, who owned a carriage making shop. By 1810, he had finished working under Cook, saved 250 dollars, gotten married, and opened up his own carriage shop, Brewster Carriage Co.
His coaches were of exceptional quality, and in a few years he would need to expand. James purchased the carriage shop of John, his former employer.
Brewster carriages began to get noticed in the larger cities, and he opened up a showroom and warehouse on Broad St. in New York City. To keep his best workers loyal, James would pay the highest wages, in cash every week. In contrast, other small establishments paid on and off, and not always with cash.
Later, James would retire, with his sons Henry running the New York branch, which became Brewster & Co. and the elder, James B. running the rival firm J.B. Brewster & Co. In 1883, Henry's 17 year old son William joined the company. After traveling about Europe to see and learn from the finest coachbuilders, William came home with extremely discerning eye, scraping an 'X' on finished body panels that showed imperfection with a pen knife, forcing a complete re-finish. Soon later, he adopted slogan "Carriage Builder for the American Gentleman."
(text source: Wikipedia)
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