The "London & York" Stage Coach

'manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879'
in lower left corner of mount

Reference Number:- Sprake Number:- Godden Number:-
st 422 unrecorded 42a

Image of stage coach with four horses and passengers
the image of this picture kindly provided by the President of The Stevengraph Collectors Association

Woven on silk:-

Printed at top of card-mount:-


Printed at bottom of card-mount:-


cm deep by cm wide

cm high by cm wide

by Austin Sprake:

by Geoffrey Godden:
This landscape scene was the first Stevengraph ever to be registered - on 14 May 1879 - also being one of the first two Stevengraphs introduced at the York Exhibition in the summer of 1879. The basic design of the coach-and-four had, however, first been registered by Thomas Stevens on 25 June 1872, when it was incorporated in one of his famous book-markers.

The picture shows the London to York coach drawn by four horses. Within a few months the same picture was reissued under the title THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260 in this site]. As such, it continued as a popular Stevengraph into the twentieth century.

The point about the change of title is that, at the time of the introduction of these new silks at the York Exhibition, subjects having a local association were chosen - i.e. DICK TURPIN'S RIDE TO YORK [st144] and THE LONDON & YORK ROYAL MAIL COACH [above]. But once the local exhibition was over, titles with a wider appeal were needed; or at least, ones not directly associated with one city. Consequently, the same silk pictures were continued under the unlocalised titles TURPIN'S LAST RIDE [st156] and THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260].

The examples shown above and in st424 are extremely rare early card-mounts which differ in two respects from the normal one st416.

The basic difference is that the mounts are termed 'Stage Coach' (as described in the Yorkshire Gazette of 14 June 1879), whereas all other mounts describe it as the 'Royal Mail Coach'.

The wording at the bottom left-hand corner of the mount in the example above reads 'Manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879', whereas later versions have the standard wording 'Woven in the York Exhibition' [st416].

The second example [st424] differs from that above in that the wording 'Manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879' does not appear at the bottom left-hand corner of the card-mount but the word 'Registered' is printed there. That version may be a very early example made at the Coventry works rather than at the York Exhibition, for general sale to the public.

It is apparent that these two very rare card-mounts are also the earliest issued, for the size of the silk picture is smaller than this later Royal Mail Coach York Exhibition specimen and smaller than the even later runs of the same subject issued under the title THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260].

Measuring the extreme size of the woven decoration, we find the length of the very early ones to be 4 4/5inches (with a small window-size of approximately 5 inches by 2 inches), whereas the slightly later silk picture of the same subject measures over 5 1/2inches, nearly filling the standard size 6 inches by 2 inches window. The rare first version is therefore nearly an inch shorter in length than the later version.

The main difference can be seen in the appearance of the leading horses - short and tubby in the first case, longer and slimmer in the later, standard, version.

Other comments:
The original design was registered on 14 May 1879, although the back label refers to ROYAL MAIL coach, not STAGE COACH.

On the image of [st415], the wording printed on the left corner of the card mount is not recorded by Godden, nor too is the version of wording shown in [st420]. As a result, it is unclear in which order the various card mounts were issued.

The only clarity appears to be that there were only three different silks woven.

  1. The first seems to be a shorter silk, with short, tubby lead horses. These silks seem to be used only with the 'STAGE COACH' card mounts.
  2. Next was a longer silk, of the same basic design, but with " normal " sized lead horses. These silks seem to be used with the 'ROYAL MAIL' card mounts, and on the early 'GOOD OLD DAYS' card mounts.
  3. Finally came the version with a winter background scene, used only on the 'GOOD OLD DAYS' card mount.

To some extent there has to be conjecture as to the order in which the early card mounts appeared.
From Godden's description above, and the discovery of alternative card mount wording, the order of the different titles would seem to be:

  1. The silk seems to have started out with the image of [st420], and has the title of THE "LONDON & YORK" STAGE COACH. The lead horses are of the short, tubby version. Importantly, the only printed wording along the bottom of the card mount is on the left lower corner, which reads:
  2. The second version would seem to be that recorded above, with MANUFACTURED IN YORK EXHIBITION, 1879 in lower left corner of mount (above).
    In the centre of the mount is REGISTERED, with the STEVENS credit now on the right. Importantly though, this STEVENS credit now reads:
    and with the addition of LONDON, must be later than the first version, [st420].
  3. Either at the same time (for the general public, as Godden suggests), or shortly afterwards, the third version appeared, recorded with REGISTERED in lower left corner of mount [st424 on this site].
    On the st424 page however there are two images. The first is with the short, tubby lead horses. The second image is of the later longer silk, with " normal " sized lead horses. It would seem therefore that this version of card mount was the transition between the two woven silk versions.
  4. With the discovery of the image of [st415], it would seem that the STAGE COACH title was very short lived. Even whilst the York Exhibition was in progress, the title was changed to THE "LONDON & YORK" ROYAL MAIL COACH. The lead horses are of the normal size, and the previous credit MANUFACTURED IN YORK EXHIBITION, 1879 remains.
  5. Next, it would seem that the previous credit of ' Manufactured in York Exhibition, 1879 ' was changed to WOVEN IN THE YORK EXHIBITION, 1879, that is, the image in [st416].
  6. Once the exhibition had closed, the old title was short lived, and was replaced after a few months with the completely different one of THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st260]. The silk remained exactly as before.
  7. The final evolution was to change the actual silk itself to include a winter scene, whilst still retaining the same THE GOOD OLD DAYS [st264] title. It was this final version which continued into the 20th century.


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This page was created on 21 December 2003. The wording was changed on 4 June 2014
image replaced with improved version 19 July 2023

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