Gargoyle From a Dunton of Reading Romany Living Wagon Circa 1908
For sale in this LOT is a very rare and one off handmade folk art traveling caravan that was built in Reading by Dunton and Sons beside the River Kennet at Crane Wharf in 1914.
This item would have been the main feature that sat above the main entrance (Crown Band)to the wagon. A true piece of English folk art Gypsy Caravan history, The Dunton made Romany living wagon was the Rolls Royce of travelling wagons in the 1900s, They were completely hand built and only affordable by the wealthiest of traveling families. The wagon that this item is from was restored by the late Micheal Lee who is one of the most well renowned wagon builders and restorers of his time. The Gargoyle item for sale was obtained from a private collector of English folk art and we have to say is the rarest item in our store.
The item sits on a black metal stand and fits perfectly onto the stand for display purposes, the Item however can be removed easily and handled. The stand is sold as part of this LOT.
This caravan was built in Reading by Dunton and Sons beside the River Kennet at Crane Wharf in 1914.
Caravans like this were first built for travelling show people in the early nineteenth century. Gypsies started to live in caravans in the 1850s. Before this they had travelled by horse or foot and camped in tents. The Romany word for caravan is vardo.
Several types of caravan developed in the nineteenth century. This one is known as a ‘Ledge’ because the body is built out over the wheels. Dunton also built the ‘Reading’ type caravan that was very popular with the Gypsy community as it was suited to poorly surfaced tracks. The reality of everyday life on the road for the Gypsies could be hard especially when faced with extremes of weather, and discrimination.
The romantic image of Gypsy life led some members of the middle classes to buy or hire Gypsy caravans for horse drawn holidays in the 1900s. This inspired the episode in Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows, when Mr Toad takes a short-lived caravan adventure. Kenneth Graham lived near Reading in Pangbourne.
Dunton’s are first recorded as ‘coach and cart wheelwright and general smith’ at 30 King’s Road and Highbridge Wharf in 1874. It is not known when they made their first caravan but by 1884 they were described as ‘van builders’. By 1889, as ‘coach and carriage builders’, they had moved to Crane Wharf, King’s Road, where they remained until the business was sold in 1922 to Froud, Rivers and Kernutt.
The Wagon from which this artefact came from can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKY3lNRmYpE&t=138s
The item is in one complete solid piece and has not structural breaks to effect the stability of the item in anyway. Obviously this item is old, worn and shows wood grain splits as shown in the photos provided. However the item is solid throughout and not fragile. The bottom lip of the Gargoyle has broken of many years ago but this adds to the character of the item.
This is a true folk art piece of fairground traveller’s history, a one off and highly desirable item by true folk art and fairground collectors. One this is for sure, you won’t find another one.
Size: H 6” x D 3.5 x W 4.5
Postage and shipping:
We can ship this item globally at buyers cost.
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