An evolutionary aspect of coasters wagons is the changeover from the large rear/smaller front wheel configuration to equal size wheels (as on the ‘safety coaster’ illustrated above). This reflects a similar transition from wagon wheels to automobile wheels around the turn of the century. As well as having the older (big and small) wagon wheel set up, this ‘Imperial’ also has bodywork that represents a transitional stage between wood and steel, i.e. a steel body with wooden floor.
1906 Wilkinson Mfg Co Imperial Coaster Wagon
Steel body with wood floor
10″ Front Wheels, 14″ Rear Wheels, steel-spoked
Wilkinson’s best-known coaster wagon was the ‘Express’ which they made in various styles. It was in production for many years. I assume this model was named the ‘Imperial’ because it was one of the first top-of-the-range models with a steel body. For a company whose products were primarily wood-based, a steel body may have required outsourcing, involving additional expense.
The original delivery label (seen below) is still attached to the underside of the wagon. Its delivery address is E.B & E.W Shepard, Willsboro, New York.
1910 WILKINSON MFG CO CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
UNDERNEATH the 1906 WILKINSON IMPERIAL
COASTER WAGON EVOLUTION: 1895 WOODEN CHAMPION v 1906 METAL IMPERIAL
Wilkinson illustrations from the book – ‘Great Sleds & Wagons’ by Joan Galicia.