For 40 years I have been dealing in antique iron beds. In that period of time, I have never bought or sold an old original spring unit. Is it because they are so rare and difficult to come by? Hardly…..When I started in the business those people wanting to sell me beds, throughout the backwoods and far reaches of Pennsylvania, W. Va, Ohio, and New York beseeched me to please take the spring unit that came with the bed frame. But no one wanted them when they did buy the iron beds from me.
The metal coils were placed on thin metal straps that were held in place by thick wire. They were then connected to the other coils by long slim metal springs. The theory was if you through more springs into a “bed spring” unit, you’d achieve more comfort. That theory is still being used today. Except today’s box springs have a distinct difference from those early models in the 1800’s.
With so many connecting points of iron spring against more metal springs and metal wire, the noise factor was difficult at best. Also because the coils were very wide apart, they didn’t hold up weight well at all. They sagged like a hammock.
Today’s “box springs” come in a wide variety of quality and construction. Once again …… the rule of thumb is …. the more individual coils, the better. But here’s where it gets tricky with today’s new box springs…….the coils have to be tight and made of thick gauge spring wire. The also have to be individually wrapped and tied, for strength. One of the two things that distinguishes an old spring unit from a modern box spring is the padding and stuffing that goes into and all around the springs in a box spring. And the other is the same reason in the old days they were called “spring units” and today they are called “box springs”……….because today the entire spring unit is encased in what appears to be a box. There is a thick damask material that surrounds the sides, top and bottom. It is sewn tightly around the unit that was constructed with a wooden framework for strength and rigidity. All the better box springs are stuffed with dense cotton for the noise factor and to give a much more universal displacement of any weight that is put on top of it.
One thing to keep in mind when using a box spring ……… always make sure it was the oe that was specifically made for the mattress that’s on top of it. If it isn’t, the spring count and placement will not line up. And if they don’t line up, the springs in the mattress will start bending in an odd direction instead of straight up and down and divuts and lumps will start forming in your mattress. It’s because of this that mattress dealers say you should turn and flip your mattress every few months. That way if the springs aren’t aligned properly……your box spring and mattress won’t have a chance to start creating those lumps we all hate.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
to answer any and all questions you might have about antique iron beds.
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