Cast iron stove came into being in the 1700s. The material of cast iron is iron mixed with carbon and silica and cast in molds. Much the same as castings on an antique iron bed. It conducts heat very efficiently, and is strong and sturdy, withstanding years of wear. Once again much the same in wear as the iron bed did. In colonial America, the most famous version of the cast iron stove was invented by Benjamin Franklin.
In 1742, Ben Franklin invented the open stove, which was made of cast iron. It used much less wood than the traditional fireplace, efficiently heating the colonial home. It was also safer, providing an enclosed area for the home fire.
Since the Franklin stove was freestanding, it could be placed in the center of a room for better heat circulation, and also could be positioned without regard to the chimney. As time went on, improvements were added, including a chimney vent.The earliest stoves were often quite small and simple. As the box stove was developed, decorative motifs were added to the more expensive versions, and many grand homes had stoves that were not only massive in size, but were also ornately decorated to match the wealth and stature of the residents.
As manufacturers of these stoves became more and more adept in their ability to cast decorative designs in the stoves many pieces, designers started developing of other practical uses for this new found process. Our beds were a natural “off-shoot” .
Up until the early 1800’s, wooden beds had been the only bed frame method available. Although it served a purpose. It also had a number of drawbacks that our beds quickly solved. Wooden beds were prone to termites and other bugs that could burrow into the wood and breed. They also had a heavy look that in the smaller bedrooms of the 1800’s was not desirable. Our beds provided a lighter airy look. They also were rodent and bug free. An advertising pitch their suppliers really played up.
Another desirable draw of our beds, was their ability to elevate the mattress and occupant of the bed to a height that eliminated the cold drafts that were close to the floor. As we all know heat rises. So the closer to the ceiling you got…… the warmer it would be. Insulation and heat were definite issues to contend with in the early 1800’s. Few houses even used insulation.
Isn’t it funny how the cast iron stoves of that period worked hand in hand with our beds to help combat the colder elements man had to contend with.
Throughout the 1800’s cast iron stoves and our beds alike, became more and more decorative and elaborate. Today our beds and old pot bellie stoves are two of the most collected early house hold items antique collectors search for.
As the Industrial Revolution swept the country in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the beautiful decorative cast iron stoves and our ornate beds, gave way to more sleek efficient heat sources and Austere styled beds.
Thank you Mr. Franklin for not only flying that kite …….. but also getting the ball rolling on the development of our countries beds.