1900 Rockwell Hansom Cab
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019
This interesting car is described as the first motorized (non-electric) taxicab in New York City. But something is a little odd. The Rockwell was a car named for Albert Rockwell, who sold the car under the Connecticut Cab Company banner with Charles Treadway, Ira Newcomb, T.H. Holdsworth, and Ernest Burwell. But they didn’t build the cars. The Bristol Engineering Company of Bristol, Connecticut did.
Moreover, they didn’t actually found the company until 1910. The story goes that in 1909 there were 11 of these on the streets, replacing the electric cab business that went under in 1907. By 1910, 200 Rockwell cabs were roaming Manhattan. Shortly after, a new taxi company took over and imported cabs from France.
Furthermore, this car is believed to have been electrically-powered at first, before being converted to its current water-cooled gasoline engine in 1910 for Mr. Rockwell himself. So was it actually built in 1900, a full decade before Rockwell (the company) got off the ground? Or was it built circa 1909? Who knows. The car has spent most of its life in a serious of museums and is seriously interesting, regardless of when it was built. This is what NYC taxis looked like 110 years ago.