Throughout the 1800’s the popularity of metal beds would continue to grow until the WWI, when all of the metal produced in this country was needed for the war effort……..bringing to a close the beauty of hand crafted antique iron beds.
One such manufacturer that really thought “outside the box”, was the Art Bed Co. out of Chicago Illinois. Chicago, outside of Pittsburgh Pa., happen to have been the second largest producer of iron beds in this country. The reason for that was simple……Chicago and Lake Michigan had large iron ore and steel mines. Their production of the materials needed to produce metal beds was second only to Pittsburgh and the steel manufacturers in Central and Western Pennsylvania.
So it stands to reason Chicago would foster a large section of the metal bed market. One of their most popular foundry was the “Art Bed Company”. They were specifically known for making beds with metal panels incorporated into the interior design of the bed. On these panels they would apply beautiful floral decals…… some of the earliest known decals of this nature.
Although the “Art Bed Co.” had a wide array of painted color schemes they offered the public…… they were best known for the “gold guilded” paint job that mimic-ed the ever popular “brass beds” of the day. On these gold guided paels they would apply the beautiful floral decals. Prior to this being done of iron beds being made in this country, Europe produced beds with similar panels and had “hand painted” scenes that dated back into the 1600 and 1700’s. These were meticulously done and are very collectible today when they are available. The obvious problem with hand painted panels, was the cost and slow production. There just weren’t enough fine artists willing to work for slave wages. That’s why only the very wealthy in European society were capable of owning such “one of a kind” pieces.
The Art Bed Co. also did something few other foundries of their period did…….. they cast their names into the end of their side rails……”ART”.
It’s unfortunate that over the years few of the beds they made survived being painted over. It was a common practice for people to give their beds a fresh coat of paint every few years or when they repainted their homes or barns. That’s why when you come across beds from the 1800’s today, they ususally have multiple layers of paint.
But having been in the bed business for forty years, I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of incredible “Art Bed Co.” models. The photo of the one in this blog is a bed I sold the productio company that did the movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”. Recognize the person setting on the bed?
The Art Bed Co. made some beautiful beds during their ten-year.
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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