Coachmen with Horse and Carriage, Havana, Cuba, 1830s-1840s

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Image Reference

Robert Baird, Impressions and experiences of the West Indies and North America in 1849 (Edinburgh, 1850), vol. 1, facing title page. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Caption, El Quitrin, Havannah," shows a slave in livery mounted on a horse. "The volante or quitrin of Havanna . . . is generally drawn by one horse or mule . . . . The conductor, called il calesero, is generally, if not always, a negro slave, and he rides on the horse or mule . . . . The private quitrin is usually a very handsome affair--glittering in silver ornaments, as does also the harness and other accouterments of the horse and rider . . . . But, without the black calesero, and his rich . . . dress, the volante would lose half of its attractions . . . . Indeed, the private calesero is a very unique object. In dress a cross between an officer of the Haytian army and a French postilion, he is usually garbed in a very handsome livery, richly embroidered with gold or silver lace, and a black hat with gold or silver band . . . ." (pp. 170-73). For another similar view of the "volante," see Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 6 (1853), p. 163 and image Album-12 on this website. A slightly altered version is also published in Maturin Ballou, History of Cuba (Boston, 1854), facing p. 131. The orginal of this illustration was done by the French artist Frederic/Federico Mialhe, who lived in Cuba from 1838 to 1854; see, Emilio Cueto, Mialhe's Colonial Cuba [Miami, The Historical Association of Southern Florida, 1994] for the same image which Cueto identifies as "the most famous Cuban print of all times", pp. 93,94).