Miniature Landau at The DFW Elite Toy Museum Ft. Worth

The DFW Elite Toy Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas, is a treasure trove of rare, unusual, exquisite, and historically significant objects spanning the entire era of modern transportation. Yet even in such stellar company, the gleaming ebony landau coach stands out.

Just shy of 2 feet long and 1 foot high, this perfect antique miniature was recently purchased at auction from a collector who acquired it in Paris, France. The style of the landau dates from the early 1800s, before the popularization of swept bases, rear-mounted groom’s seats, and more elaborate foot irons. Its features are typical of the period, including aft-hinged half doors and elliptical springs to smooth the drive over pavestoned streets.

Small business marketing consultant, noted toy collector, and museum owner Ron Sturgeon, concurs with the previous owner that the landau is not a toy or a hobbyist’s model. “Whoever built this intended to create an exact scale replica, without a single omission or embellishment,” he observes. “Even the undercarriage is complete and functional, right down to the suspension.” The detail is exquisite, from the quilted seat cushions to the independent frontcarriage, leather bellows-top hood, and candeled lanterns flanking the coachman’s perch.

Although documentation of its past has not survived, this specimen may be a salesman’s sample, manufactured to exacting detail by the coachmaker to demonstrate its product line to prospective customers. In its day, the landau was the choice of the wealthy “carriage class”, the 19th century version of a convertible luxury car, allowing its finely attired passengers to see and be seen in their finery when out on the town. Queen Elizabeth II still uses one for public appearances.

On the coach’s doors is a gold emblem in the shape of a crown with 7 points. It is possible that this is the coachmaker’s mark, and may hold the key to definitively establishing the history of this highly rare example of the art of the miniature at its finest.

To view the landau in person, stop by DFW Elite Toy Museum inside DFW Elite Auto Rental at 5940 Eden in Fort Worth. The museum is open from 9 to 5 on weekdays and 9 to 4 on Saturday.