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An old-fashioned horse-drawn pantechnicon from the Milestones Museum of Living History in Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK
A 1947 Bedford pantechnicon van owned by the Pickfords moving company


From Pantechnicon, a 19th-century firm which owned a building with a Greek-style facade of Doric columns in Motcomb Street, Belgrave Square, London, UK, with a picture gallery, a furniture shop, a shop selling carriages, and a warehouse for storing customers’ furniture and other items. The firm used large horse-drawn vans to collect and deliver their customers' property, which came to be known as Pantechnicon vans.

The word was coined by the firm from pan- (prefix meaning ‘all) (from Ancient Greek πᾶν (pân), neuter form of πᾶς (pâs, all, every)) + τεχνικόν (tekhnikón), neuter singular of τεχνικός (tekhnikós, technical).



pantechnicon (plural pantechnicons)

  1. (chiefly Britain) A building or place housing shops or stalls where all sorts of (especially exotic) manufactured articles are collected for sale. [from 19th c.]
    • 1852, John Henry Newman, “Discourse V. General Knowledge Viewed as One Philosophy.”, in Discourses on the Scope and Nature of University Education. Addressed to the Catholics of Dublin, Dublin: James Duffy, 7 Wellington Quay, publisher to His Grace the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, OCLC 2381364, page 139:
      It is plain, that such writers do not rise to the very idea of a University. They consider it a sort of bazaar, or pantechnicon, in which wares of all kinds are heaped together for sale in stalls independent of each other; and that, to save the purchasers the trouble of running about from shop to shop; or an hotel or lodging house, where all professions and classes are at liberty to congregate, varying, however, according to the season, each of them strange to each, and about its own work or pleasure; []
  2. (chiefly Britain) Originally pantechnicon van: a van, especially a large moving or removal van. [from 19th c.]
    • 1911, Arnold Bennett, The Card: A Story of Adventure in the Five Towns, London: Methuen Publishing, OCLC 492063506; republished Toronto, Ont.: William Briggs, 1910s, OCLC 225424669, page 69:
      The pantechnicon was running away. It had perceived the wrath to come and was fleeing. Its guardians had evidently left it imperfectly scotched or braked, and it had got loose. [] [T]he onrush of the pantechnicon constituted a clear crisis. Lower down the gradient of Brougham Street was more dangerous, and it was within the possibilities that people inhabiting the depths of the street might find themselves pitched out of bed by the sharp corner of a pantechnicon that was determined to be a pantechnicon.
    • 1972, William Barclay, “The Race and the Goal”, in The Letter to the Hebrews (The Daily Study Bible Series), rev. edition, Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, →ISBN, page 172:
      In the Christian life we have a handicap. If we are encircled by the greatness of the past, we are also encircled by the handicap of our own sin. No man would seek to climb Mount Everest with a pantechnicon of lumber weighing him down. If we would travel far, we must travel light.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia: Or Buried Alive: A Novel, London: Faber and Faber, →ISBN; republished in The Avignon Quintet: Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian, Quinx, London: Faber and Faber, 1992, →ISBN, page 426:
      In fact, as they later found, the auxiliary vehicle was a very large removers' van – the kind known as a pantechnicon.
    • 2008, Anthony Trethowan, “Wendy Atkinson”, in Delta Scout: Ground Coverage Operator, Johannesburg: 30° South Publishers, →ISBN, page 30:
      I later established that the R12 [Renault 12] and pantechnicon had both been driving in the direction of the roadblock, the R12 behind the pantechnicon.
    • 2009, E[dward] H[ector] Burn; J[ohn] Cartwright, “Adverse Possession and Limitation of Actions”, in Maudsley and Burn's Land Law: Cases & Materials, 9th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, pages 291–292:
      [] Bulstrode v Lambert [1953] 1 WLR 1064 [] [T]he plaintiff made use of the route with furniture vans and pantechnicons for bringing goods to the mart. The defendant objected on the ground that the parked pantechnicons interfered with his business as a cafe and car hire proprietor, but Upjohn J held that the plaintiff could use the way with pantechnicons which could park as long as was necessary for loading and unloading, this being an incident of a right of way.
    • 2010, John D. Beasley, “What a Lot of Shops and Stalls!”, in East Dulwich Remembered, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, →ISBN:
      Shinkfield's had at one time belonged to a firm called Hutchison's which did furniture removals. They stabled their horses and pantechnicon in the yard which runs behind the Lord Palmerston and the adjoining shops, with access from North Cross Road.


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