While they served the same function as today’s models, baby gear back then was made without things we now use every day, like plastic and synthetic fibers (such as polyester).
Instead, these devices were built with metal, wicker, wood, rubber, and often fabric made from cotton or wool. As you can see below, some beautiful designs were made with wooden spindles and woven reeds.
All of those materials, though, made these old-fashioned baby buggies heavy. While that was a plus in terms of sturdiness, it also meant it was tough for your great-great-grandparents to push your baby ancestors across uneven surfaces, and all but impossible to get down stairs. But, clearly, they made it work.
Take a look below at the antique carriages and strollers that used to carry the most precious cargo.
Early American baby carriages: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (circa 1880s)
Adults and children in Nebraska (1887)
Here are some people in front of the then-new W.G. Brotherton Store at Merna, Nebraska. (Can you imagine how bumpy the ride would be when you pushed a stroller or carriage through that dirt?)
Bloomingdale’s antique baby carriages with umbrellas (1890)
These old reed and rattan carriages came trimmed with finishes like silk plush, wool sateen, cretonne and spun silk. They all featured overhead sun umbrellas/parasols.
Baby in an old-fashioned carriage with a letter to mail (c1890s)
A big sister and baby (1900)
This girl looks like she’s adjusting the parasol/umbrella on the buggy for her little sister.
Antique wicker stroller from 1900
Early American baby carriages: Wicker version (1900)
Antique wicker baby stroller from 1900
Pushing a vintage wooden baby carriage in Staten Island, New York (1900)
Popular antique baby carriages from Sears (1905)
Top: Our Leader at $3.95. This carriage, although very low in price, is made of best quality material throughout and is well finished in every way.
The body is composed of hardwood spindles with reed scrolls at the sides. All joints are firmly dovetailed, doweled and glued. We are positive it is the very best constructed carriage ever offered at so low a price.
It has our latest Perfection Gear with 16-inch steel wheels with patent wheel fasteners, rubber hub caps and foot brake. Has steel handles with three imitation walnut grips.
Enameled in Brewster green and gilt striped. Upholstered with cushions of denim, covering seat, sides and back. Has a percaline parasol with fancy scalloped ruffle (furnished in any color). Complete with upholstery and parasol. Price. $3.95 Rubber tires, 65 cents extra.
Bottom: This is one of our lowest-priced carriages shown this season.
A value which can’t be beat. The body is made of selected round and flat reeds woven into a handsome design. The framework and fancy carved bottom are made of kiln-dried maple. Neatly finished in light natural color and shellacked.
It has our latest Perfection Gear with elastic oil tempered steel springs, 16-inch rubber tired steel wheels, with patent wheel fasteners, rubber hub caps and automatic foot brake. Enameled in Brewster green and gilt striped.
Upholstered with cushions of denim, covering seat, back and sides. Has a fine sateen parasol with fancy deep scalloped ruffle (furnished in any color). Read what we say at the top of this page about the construction of this cart. No. 26E2752 Price, complete, $6.85.
Strollers/carriages/baby go-carts with and without parasols (1905)
The Oriole Go Basket convertible baby stroller-pram (1907)
Vintage baby carriages in Central Park (1909)
It’s also hard to ignore that one child’s mother (or nanny) is glaring at the camera.
The rich baby’s mode of transport (1910)
This little guy was Vinson Walsh McLean, the son of Evalyn Walsh McLean. Evalyn’s father was an Irish immigrant who made a fortune mining gold during the Gold Rush.
Evalyn, then, was best known for being a mining heiress and a socialite with a passion for jewels. She was the last private owner both of the famous 45-karat Hope Diamond, and the 94-carat (18.8 g) Star of the East diamond.
As such, her firstborn had an undoubtedly expensive baby carriage, complete with a toy horse in front.
Smiling toddler in New York (c1910)
Little baby in a carriage napping outside (c1912)
Baby pram-carriage with a cover in the rain (1913)
Baby in a wood and metal carriage (1913)
They’re both happy to be out of the rain.
Cute girl in an early baby carriage (c1914)
Antique baby carriage: Full collapsible Pullman sleeper (1916)
Lavishly trimmed with nickel, as illustrated — has new auto good and twelve-inch wheels
One-motion collapsible go-cart (1916)
Shock absorbing springs insure comfort. Back adjustable to four positions. Is nickel trimmed. Fitted with oval mud guards. Full steel tubular frame.
Hey – who let the cat in here?
Strong tubular frame go-cart for baby (1916)
Has 12-inch wheels, 5-8 inch rubber tires, roll storm curtains, shapely auto hood, soft padded back adjustable to 3 positions
Cute baby in his wicker carriage (1917)
Baby carriage: A genuine reed, corduroy-lined, reversible gear, full-size sleeper (1922)
Comes in your choice of Baronial Brown, Natural Ivory or French Gray finish
THIS CARRIAGE is unusually handsome in appearance, well-constructed from high-grade materials, conveniently arranged, easy to operate and beautifully finished. At the prices we quote it offers rare value in a carriage of quality and carries our unqualified recommendation to all who wish a very fine article.
It is a Pullman sleeper with a genuine reed body, made of half-round reed with round reed roll as shown in the illustration. Every detail represents the highest skill in the carriage builder’s art and only select materials of high quality enter into its construction.
The sturdiness of the gear, the long luxury spring, imparting a gentle cradle motion, and the high-grade materials used in upholstering make this a most desirable carriage at a moderate price.
REVERSIBLE GEAR, with which this fine carriage is equipped, is very simple in operation. You simply press the pedal lever and revolve the body of the carriage to the left (as shown in the small illustration in lower left hand corner of this page).
When the body is completely reversed (as shown in the small illustration in lower right corner) it automatically locks and is securely held in this position. This is a great convenience. If the sun is shining in the child’s face, or if there is a strong wind against the babe, simply turn the body around and the child is protected.
The sliding, adjustable hood with heavy corduroy draft curtain at the back, fully protects your baby from the weather. (See small illustration in lower right corner.)
FEATURES are many and of a nature to secure your entire approval and approbation. The convenience of the reversible gear, the large, well-made wheels with heavy rubber tires, the long and specially designed “luxury” springs that perfectly support the body and impart a soft, cradle-like motion.
The handsomely designed and beautifully finished body with real corduroy box cushions; the sliding hood irons, enabling you to slide the hood backward or forward and adjust it to various angles; the Victoria glass windows and double lining in hood with corduroy draft curtain, all carry an appeal to those who wish the best.
This is a carriage that we unreservedly recommend for satisfactory service.
THE DETAILS of construction indicate the excellence of this carriage: The body is made of half-round genuine reed with round reed roll, swelled sides, reclining back and deep footwell.
The half-round reed hood, adjustable on nickel-plated sliding hood irons, is corduroy lined with inter-lining between reed work and upholstering and has corduroy draft curtain.
The body is upholstered with full box corduroy cushions. The gear is reversible, with long “luxury” springs, flat leaf and unbreakable. Has strong tubular steel pushers, large 14 in. artillery wood wheels with liberal size rubber tires and nickel hub caps. Fitted with an efficient foot brake.
Inside measurements are: Length of body at top, back up. 29 in.; width of body at top, 15 in.; height of body from seat to top, 10 in.
COLORS: This handsome Pullman sleeper may be had in your choice of Baronial Brown, Natural Ivory or French Gray finish as priced below. Illustration shows the French Gray finish.
No matter which color you prefer, you will receive a very beautiful carriage of high quality and excellent finish. Our liberal credit terms make it easy for you to enjoy the use of this fine Pullman sleeper while paying for it.