John W. Carrington was born in Danbury, Conn., in 1817 and came to
New York City as a teenager to make his mark. He operated as a
commission merchant in New York City as early as 1834, when
Longworth’s New-York Register and City Directory listed him at that
occupation at 13 Dutch St. in lower Manhattan.
Carrington also attended the University of the City of New York
and became a professional civil engineer. Carrington went to Cuba to
build a railroad there and then built another in Nicaragua.
When he returned to the states, he became associated with Adams
& Co. Fluent in both French and Spanish, and having equipped
himself with useful business experience, in 1851 he formed his own
agency to fill orders for merchants of Panama and South America for
goods available at New York City.
In 1854, he associated with an A.M. Hinkley in a baggage and
freight express at 78 Broadway, but this arrangement did not last
long. He then formed his Havana Express, also at 78 Broadway.
Eventually, the company operated all over Cuba and was restyled Island
of Cuba Express circa 1858. Later it began to also serve customers in
Brazil and Mexico. Carrington would operate several businesses under
the umbrella firm of Carrington & Co. He charged 5 percent on
purchases made for his overseas customers.
The Carrington & Co. store card is a pictorial design
illustrating a man on a horse galloping past a mile marker. This
pre-Civil War store card was issued in several metals. It is cataloged
in Russ Rulau’s Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 as
NY 144 to NY 147A.
In a large ad in Harper’s Weekly, Aug. 6, 1864, Adams Express and
nine other similar companies, including American Express, Wells, Fargo
& Co., Harnden’s Express and Kinsley & Co’s Express, endorsed
Carrington & Co.’s services. Carrington & Co.’s Express and
Purchasing Agency’s ad in Trow’s 1865 New York City Directory located
the company at No. 40 Broadway with “expresses to Havana and all parts
of the West India islands, Central & South America, Mexico, &c.”
The firm is listed in the 1865 edition of John Disturnell’s
Railway and Steamship Guide Giving the Railroad and Steamboat
Arrangements also at No. 40 Broadway.
However, a notice announcing a chartered “Pleasure trip to the
Mediterranean and Black Sea” commencing May 12, 1866, in the
collections of Stanford University, lists Carrington & Co. at a 30
Broadway address. In March 1879, the partners were listed as John W.
Carrington and Raymond Carrington, relationship unknown. The firm was
absorbed by Baldwin & Co. John W. Carrington died April 21, 1895,
in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Fred L. Reed iii has been a collector and writer for many years.
Reach him at www.fredwritesright.com.