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With a last name like Currier visions of winter, snow and sleighs may come to mind…visions of a Currier and Ives print so it’s fitting that Francis (Fran) A. Currier, no relation to the printer Currier, was the one to donate a century old sleigh to the city.
Due to moving, he had to find a home for his personal 'jewel' and he fortunately asked if the City of St. Augustine wanted to own it for the enjoyment of others.
It’s likely the Portland Cutter sleigh was manufactured in Wisconsin by Northestwestern Manufacturing Company then shipped wholesale to a company in Maine where it was then sold. The wording ‘Sold by W. A. Bryant’ is located on the back of the sleigh. The name Portland Cutter refers to the unique and specific style of this sleigh.
Currier related the story of how he obtained the sleigh December 1, 1956, almost 53 years ago.
He and four friends went on a hunting trip to Maine and after not finding any deer, had a conversation about sleighs. One fellow said he would like to have one. Currier spoke up and said if they find any, then he would take the second one they might find.
As it turned out, the other fellow found the first sleigh, bought it and put it on top of the vehicle. Asking around they heard of an elderly fellow who might have one and he did but didn’t know where it was. The next day they went back and he found it in his barn in the loft. After seeing it covered with cornstarch, they got it down, Currier and the farmer came to an agreeable price and they loaded it on top of their vehicle with the other sleigh. “We didn’t kill any deer but came back with two sleighs!” stated Currier.
When he returned to Rhode Island from the hunting trip, he had the sleigh reupholstered and his two children enjoyed it especially around Christmas. Over the years it turned into a “nice piece to talk about, a conservation piece” he said.
His daughter, Jean, has vivid memories of the sleigh as a child.
After visiting St. Augustine since 1980, Currier and his wife moved here in 1996. To protect the sleigh he only took it out of his garage a few times but always welcomed others to sit in it around the holidays for pictures. Before they saw the sleigh he always asked a couple of questions. “Do you believe in Santa Claus and so how do you think he delivers all those presents to children?” The answers were always quick and firm with a “yes!” and “a sleigh!”
The sleigh which is bright red with red upholstery is in a safe place and will be brought out before the holidays and will most likely decorate the Visitors Information Center where it can be enjoyed by the public.
Asked if Currier had a name for the two seater "one horse open" sleigh, he responded, “No, just my sleigh!”