Sedan Chair Display Cases

Petite Exhibit: Sedan Chair Display Cases

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 - 10:00am to Sunday, October 16, 2022 - 4:30pm

Discover two marvelous miniature display cases which take on the form of 18th century style sedan chairs, which themselves are on exhibit in a display case in the National Historic Register Wilson Warner House.

These two remarkable objects are highlighted from the HOF museum collection of nearly seven thousand objects.  These decorated sedan chairs were owned by Mary Corbit Warner (1848-1923) at the turn of the 20th century when the full sized versions were having a brief revival in cities and at World Fairs.  Mary possibly used her sedan chairs to present some of her small precious family keepsakes much like the function of a jewelry box or watch display case.  Likewise, she might have used them to reveal some of her souvenirs from her world travels.  Mary was a descendant of both the prominent Corbit and Wilson families of Cantwell’s Bridge or later renamed Odessa.  She preserved and opened the David Wilson Mansion as one of Delaware’s first house museums.

These toy-like sedan chairs had full sized counterparts in Europe and Colonial America.  The chairs with their enclosed cabins were hired for transporting passengers through the streets of a city by two strong chairmen who used two horizontal poles attached with brackets to two sides of the sedan.  Chairmen were licensed much like modern taxi drivers are in cities today.  These contraptions were used across times and cultures for practical and ceremonial purposes.

The next time you “get a lift” think about how your sedan or automobile compares to these pretend sedan chairs.  Might the sedan chair return with the spike in gas prices?  Also ponder the similar open bicycle “sedan chairs” used today at many large cities and tourist destinations.  On your fast track to the beach, slow down and take the opportunity to visit the beautiful country village of Odessa and experience its history while studying these two unique objects up close.

This showcase exhibit is included with general HOF admission.