Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents
José Cardoso Brito
Click on any image for a larger view - Much of the text has been
extracted from José's own writings representing his journey
page added Jan 2019
José Brito is seen in his workshop with
one of his models.
A museum photo from the
Portuguese Museu Nacional dos Coaches shows one of his carriage
models alongside the original from which his model was built.
We were quite
pleased when we received
photos and information from a man who specializes in the
construction of models of vintage European and American horse-drawn
carriages. José Cardoso Brito has had his models featured on display
with the original coaches in Portugal’s Coach Museum. Over the past
20 years or so he has completed 15 models of significant royal,
personal and mail carriages, with each improving on the previous in
skill and detail. Though he claims to be an “amateur,” this is true
only in the sense that he does not build the models to sell. He
makes them simply for the love of recreating such fine original
craftsmanship in miniature. About his work, Mr. Brito says the
am a big amateur in construction of coach miniatures in 1/10 scale.
I had the great satisfaction of finding this magnificent Museum of
World Craft Joe Martin Craft Museum, a wonder to look at. Many
congratulations for your organization. I would like to show share of
my works, made from the original carros (cars, coaches) that are in
the national museum of the cars in Lisbon, Portugal. I usually make
my own plans, taking many measurements and photos of the original
detail to do these works. I also have a model coach made from the
original plans of a Napoleonic state coach offered by the Fisher
Body Craftsman’s Guild for a contest in the USA in the 1930’s. There
are 15 miniatures of coaches that I have at the moment, it would be
a great pleasure to be able to show them in your great museum,
Foundation Joe Martin foundation.”
—José Cardosa Brito
Before building model carriages, José Brito built wooden ship models. He found them to be hard to display
and transport. While looking in a ship model catalog he found a kit
for a Wells Fargo stagecoach, ordered it and built it. From then on
his interests turned to coaches, and all his following models were
built from scratch rather than from kits.
Mr. Brito’s models have been displayed
in several museums and seen by many visitors.
José’s latest work
completed mid year 2019, is this Panhard & Levassor automobile.
Bought in Paris France in 1895 by the Count of Avilez, it was the
first automobile that came to Portugal.
The Panhard & Levassor represents the beginning of a transition from
horse drawn carriages to the automobile. This model is 1/8th scale
and took José 10 months to complete.
Details of Mr. Brito’s coach
models in order of construction
My first coach was a Wells Fargo
American expedition of the 19th century. This miniature is built
from a 1/10 scale Latin Craft Kit about 20 years ago. It was built
before I built naval ship models, but as the boats are very bulky
and difficult to pack and carry, I found this Wells Fargo carriage
in a catalog of miniature boats, and I decided to try these kinds of
My second attempt at building a coach is a Royal Mail Coach.
This was my first project built from scratch.
Coachs 3 and 4
French origin, the next two miniatures took about a year and a
half each to build in 1/10 scale.
As you can see, I had not yet mastered the gilding of the gold leaf
nor the details of the sculpture. I try to improve the refinement in
the details throughout each new construction. The materials I use
are always the closest I can find to the originals, such as velvet,
silks and apricot fabric. The woods are beech, boxwood and various
types of metal and iron.
The full-size carriage was the last of the museum collection that
was used to transport Queen Elizabeth II of England when she visited
Portugal in 1957. This miniature took about a year and a half to
Nº 6 is the car of Filipe II. It is of Spanish origin and
transported King Filipe from Madrid to Lisbon in 1619. It took about
a month to make the trip. It is a coach unique in the world, and the
original is number 1 of the museum’s collection. It was built in
Spain in the 17th century. This miniature is made in 1/10 scale and
took two and a half years to build. It was the most difficult model
to build of all in my collection. It is made with natural silk,
leather and apricot fabric. The seat has an evacuation system, WC
and is built from chestnut wood, beech, metal and iron. All the
details of the original are reproduced here.
My seventh coach model is a landau of French origin and was the
first official vehicle of our first president of the Republic in
Coach No. 8 is a Landau of regicide. This landau has a very sad
history, for in it was assassinated our last king, D. Carlis I. It
is a landau of Portuguese origin. This miniature is made on a scale
1/10 and it took about a year and a half to build, Everything is
functional, such as doors windows lamps, brake and suspension, plus
hood is foldable.
My ninth coach is a Carruagem of Porto Covo. The carriage is of
English origin, SÉculo XI. This miniature took about a year to build
and is made on a scale 1/10.
This is a Napoleonic state coach built from plans offered by the
Fischer Body Craftsman Guild, which was sponsored by
General Motors Corporation in Detroit, Michigan in the 1930’s. When
I was looking for miniature coaches on the internet, I happened to
discover the history of this magnificent coach associated with G.M.
The history of the challenge fascinated me immensely, so I bought
the original plans in the U.S.A. and built this beautiful miniature.
These coaches were originally to be built by young craftsmen in a
nation-wide contest with the ultimate winner receiving a 4-year
college scholarship. It served as a talent search for future
automobile designers skilled in the art of model making.
I found the original of this van in a large commercial area doing a
promotion for sausages. I found it very funny and unusual, so I
asked for permission to take photos and measurements in order to
build it on a scale of 1/10. It is all made in Oak wood with a
varnished finish like the original.
found this model coach on ebay. It is from the original made by boys
for the G.M. contest, but it was very broken with many pieces
missing, so I bought it to restore it. Here you can see it as I
received it and in its final finished form. Most of the original
parts were not possible to recover, so most had to be re-created. I
just took advantage of some of the original pieces, such as the
driver's seat curtains and little else. This Fischer Body
Craftsman’s Guild story motivated me and charmed me a lot with G.M.
NOTE: The Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, California has two
award winning model Napoleonic coaches built for this contest on
display. You can also learn more about the contest at
These next two are two carriages of the malaposta, or royal mail
coach. Coach No. 13 is a miniature built on scale of 1/10 and took
about a year to build. It originally made the connection between
Lisbon Coimbra and Porto, which is about a 300 km journey. The trip
took 34 hours, and there were 23 horse-shoe stops along the way. On
the model, every detail is captured along with it’s function. As you
can see, even the coach lights work.
Construction # 14 is a royal mail coach of Belgian origin, 19th
century. This miniature took about a year and a half to build,
This was my latest construction. It was finished in 2018.
It is also a royal mail coach of unknown origin.
||The four royal mail
coaches belonging to the museum of the Post Office of Portugal and
are vehicles that are in a very good state of conservation and
are all built to scale 1/10 like all the others and each took about
one year to build. Some of José’s other models can be seen in the
display case behind him.
Brito’s workshop areas are compact but
“About my workshop and tools used, I mean that all these jobs are
done in the garage, not very big, but enough for these
constructions. The tools used are not too many, and they are not
very sophisticated. I have a watchmaker's lathe for very small
things, a larger lathe for larger things such as wheels and metal
parts, an air compressor and airbrush for the painting, 2 table
saws, a Proxxon mill for very fine and precise things, and a
Parksaid for cutting thicker wood, a miniature strand for twisting
the strings which overlap the windows and interior panels, and
various jigs and molds for the railings. Some of the tools are of
homemade construction, like hat rods or broken limes. I have
included some photos of the workshop.”
—José Cardosa Brito
Other Sources of
the work of
detailed blog in English with many photos
video of a Portuguese TV show featuring José
photos of coaches
history of full-size coaches with details of José’s models too
Drawings and photos of real coaches
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