As you may have learned form some of my earlier blogs, Pittsburgh was the center of steel production in this country back in the 1800’s. So if you had a business that relied on steel and iron ore for the production of what you made, it behooved you to locate that business as close to the source of those needed materials as possible. Hence the cluster of hundreds upon hundreds of small independently owned foundries that sprung up within a very close, one day trip of Pittsburgh. Freight charges and time were a definite issue for manufacturers back then. If you choose to live in New York or Vermont or some southern state, you had to count on having more of a stock pile of raw materials……which meant more cash was tied up in those materials. The ease with which a foundry could get materials , when needed, often determined how financially successful they would be.
So if you wanted to live in the south and operate a foundry, where would be a good place to locate? How about along side of the great Mississippi River which could bring you the needed materials form those steel mills in the north. That’s exactly why Baton Rouge became a popular region for foundries back in the early to mid 1800’s. All the beautiful railings and banisters throughout the French Quarter of New Orleans, were produced in the foundries of Baton Rouge. And after they saturated New Orleans with those beautiful railings, it was natural for them to look toward other things their foundries could produce that the public needed. What better item than “iron beds”. It’s no accident that many of the iron beds that were produced in Baton Rouge had a French flare to them along with beautiful castings as did the banisters and railings they were producing. There was a very strong French population in Louisiana in the 1800’s. Louisiana was actually under French control from 1682 to 1763 and then again from 1800 to 1803. In 1803, strained by obligations in Europe, Napolean Bonaparte decided to sell the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase……ending Frances presence in Louisiana. But their influence in design, furniture and architecture is can still be seen to this day. Most of the iron beds those Baton Rouge foundries produced had what is known as a side French Curve, picture here. Also iron beds from this region had an abundance of scrolling and detailed castings. Probably because of the numerous foundries that did the fine detailed cast iron railings. This was a perfect pedigree for making beautiful iron beds.
Here are some of the elaborate railings that can still be seen today throughout the French Quarter. Notice any similarities to some of the iron beds you may have seen?
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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