Itself a window overlooking the crowd of pedestrians, a sort of moving scene, the carriage stands out thanks to its magnificence, the beauty and the number of horses that pull it, the escorting servants, the power of the prince or the wealth of the individual who owns it. The automobile is still today a social marker: it is hardly the same to ride in a Rolls-Royce or a Ferrari than to ride in a compact car.
This role as representation and affirmation of social status explains the richness of the materials, the lavish decoration, the attention paid to the bodywork and the number of horses in its team. Indeed, save utilitarian carriages and heavy public transport carriages, the number of horses pulling a carriage does not depend on its weight, but rather on an owner's wealth or social status.
The carriage is the goal that every man looks to achieve in the path to fortune.
Mercier, Sébastien, Tableaux de Paris, Hambourg, Virchaux et Neuchâtel, S. Fauche, 1781.
To satisfy a demanding and increasingly comfort-seeking, well-off clientele, for whom owning a team is the most obvious sign of social success, carriage manufacturers created myriad models tailored to each activity, to each need: travelling, moving around town or in the countryside, parading in the Bois and on the city's avenues and boulevards, riding along in the woods or on provincial roads, going hunting or shopping, having a picnic, going to the evening shows, enjoying leading one's own team, doing business, meeting social or daily obligations... and even travelling to one's final resting place.
These models are divided into separate groups: ceremonial carriages, town carriages, country carriages, travelling carriages, carriages for men, women and children, riding carriages, sports carriages, open carriages for the summer, covered carriages for the winter or convertible depending on the season, morning carriages, service coaches and carriages for training and exercising horses. They also include carriages for stewarding castles and mansions: town coaches, broughams, landau carriages, landaulets, barouches, sociables, vis-à-vis carriages, mylords, victorias, George IV phaetons, phaetons, spiders, breaks, dog-carts, omnibuses, gigs, tilburies, tandem-carts, curricles, governess carts and ralli cars… as many types of carriages to meet each and every requirement and need.