What made them so popular were a number of contributing factor’s. The first few were practical ones…….they elevated the person sleeping in the away from the drafts that were close to the floor. The higher up you were, the warmer you were. Back in the 1800’s heating a house and insulation to retain the heat were not what they are today. So everything that could be done to counteract the cold drafts was a plus.
Another strong practical reason for their popularity was the rodent problem back then. Being elevated kept the occupant away from little critter’s that were on the ground. It was believed that mice and other rodents didn’t like climbing up smooth cold tubing. Whereas they had no problem with wooden head and footboards.
Surprisingly enough, termites were also an issue. Wooden headboards fell pray to the little insatiable insects. But iron tubing was not on their menu.
After all the practical reasons, came the esthetic ones. A countless array of colored paint finishes enabled the owner to literally customize their bed for the room, mood, gender and surrounding furniture. Some people preferred clean fresh looking white. But few people today realize white was probably the least used color. Blacks and two tone color combinations were extremely popular, as were greens, golds, blues and every other imaginable color. Some beds even had floral paintings on flat metal panels. These were referred to as “Art Panel” beds. Many of these cam from a popular foundry in the Chicago area called the Art Metal Bed Co. They are one of the only foundries, and there were thousands of small independently owned foundries that ever had their company name cast in iron on the end of their side rails.
Consider the fact that brass beds allowed no flexibility in decorating. If your bedroom furniture didn’t blend with your brass bed, you really had no recourse. Not so the case with an iron bed that could be painted over and over again whenever the owner wanted to change the mood or color of the room.
Castings could be accented with different colors or done in gold guild to match other brass items in the room or brass accents that happen to be on the bed, in the form of corner brass ball finials or scrolled pieces of brass.
Regarding brass accents on antique iron beds…….. there initially was a very good marketing reason to be adding brass as accents. Back then “brass beds” were consider a little higher on the social scale. More affluent people opted for the shinny all brass beds. Brass beds were also a little more expensive. So in an attempt to capture some of the brass bed market, foundries making beds out of all iron decided a little stick of brass, or corner brass finials, or even elaborately scrolled pieces integrated into the design of the bed, would appeal to brass bed buyers. They were right……..brass bed sales fell off dramatically when accent pieces were offered on the all iron models.
There is really no way to put a number on how many designs and styles were made back then. I’ve been buying and selling them for close to 40 years and am , to this day, constantly amazed at the variety and seemingly limitless designs that were produced. Some were far more prolific than others. But then some are truly “one of a kind” “commission beds” that were made for the extremely affluent. I’m fortunate to have come across a few of them and actually have one for each of my two daughters.
The popularity of iron beds is unparalleled by any other piece of furniture back then.
I hope you’ll use the Tabs above to check out our website and designs we have available. Although we don’t post all our inventory on our web, because of the number of beds we have, approximately 400, we will email you photo’s of everything we have that fall within whatever guidelines of style and price you happen to have. Our email is all over our site so please don’t hesitate contacting us with any and all questions you might have. It’s our pleasure to help educate you and find exactly what you’re looking for.
Thanks for stopping……..Hope to be hearing from you.