As you may have seen in a previous blog…….there were little iron beds being made for salesman to carry with them when they went from town to town taking orders for full size beds. These were called “salesman’s samplers”. Those miniature beds were distinctly different from the one in this photo. The miniature one in this photo was never intended to be anything other than a”doll” bed for a child. One way to tell are the side’s it has on it and the simple fact that there never was an bed that was made like it. With a “salesman’s sampler”, there was always a corresponding full size bed to match.
Over the years I’ve seen many of the matching beds that the “salesman’s sampler’s” all went to. The majority of those “salesman’s sampler’s” all have a drop in rail system that’s exactly like the real full size model.
Iron Doll beds must have been a rather extravagant toy for a child. Although they were much smaller that the original size antique iron beds they were modeled after, it appears as though quite a bit of work must have gone into making them to scale. The other thing that makes them very collectible is their scarcity. I’ve been n the business for 40 years and have only 5 in my collection. I haven’t been actively searching them out. But you’d think in that period of time I’d have come across more of them than I have.
Doll beds are surprisingly made with the same hand poured cast iron castings. The iron tubing is smaller but proportional to that of the full size beds that were made.
Prices on doll beds and “salesman’s samplers” have started to climb considerably in the past few years, due mostly to their rarity. Having a toy that a child played with close to 200 years ago and is still in great condition…..that’s pretty special.
So if you already have a great old antique iron bed in your home………keep your eye’s out for a iron doll bed. You never know when you might come across a miniature “salesman’s sampler” of your own style bed.
If you do find one…….get it. It’s as good an investment as your full size metal bed was.