Phaetons come in all sorts of varieties and sizes. It is a term that often confuses the casual visitor to carriage museums and collections. Indeed it should, because it was such a widely, inconsistently used term that derives from the Greek (Phaethon, son of Helios, who drove the Chariot of the Sun with such careless abandon that Zeus struck him down with a lightning bolt to prevent him from destroying the Earth with fire). The term was first applied to classify a carriage during that 16th century period in France when it was so fashionable to use classical pseudonyms. Usage of the term spread quickly to England and America. There are few distinguishing characteristics that can restrict the use of the term -- perhaps only that it is an owner driven vehicle and that it nearly always includes some sort of top that would shelter, at least, the driver. The name was applied to both large and small carriages that might be drawn by one or more horses. Actually, manufacturers used the term extremely loosely and it gains one little to consider why any particular vehicle might have been called a Phaeton.
The Spider Phaeton was so named, however, because of its extremely delicate lines and lack of bulkiness. Notice the rear seat for the groom and how open and delicate it looks compared to the one on the Stanhope Phaeton that is included in this tour. The Spider Phaeton was originally designed in America in the 1860s, but became very popular in both America and Europe in the last decade of that century. Carriages of similar design were manufactured by many companies.
This Spider Phaeton was built by Healey & Company, of New York City, in about 1900. This company was highly respected and, in 1884, built a very large factory on West 43rd Street.