“Where do you get your iron beds ?” ……… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question and how many ridiculous answers I’ve come up with over the past 40 years.
My favorite is…….. “there’s a small town close to Three Mile Island that is a toxic waste dump. Over the past 100 years, the majority of all the discarded iron beds in the east , end up in that dump.” You’d be surprised at how many people I’ve told this to that actually bought it hook line and sinker……sad. But then I feel if a person is so clueless and rude to ask me where I get my beds, they don’t really deserve much more of an answer.
So here is a little history lesson on where I use to search for my beds.
Back in the early 1800’s Pittsburgh Pennsylvania was the center of iron ore and steel production in this country. It was here that the raw materials that went into the construction of iron beds came from. So it naturally stands to reason, if you were a small independently owned foundry, wanting to go into production, and you didn’t want to tie up all your money in production materials………. you’d want to locate your business as close to the source of the supplies you’d need as possible. That way, as orders came in for your beds you could purchase the materials as you needed them. And if you had half a dozen or so different designs, you wouldn’t have to build up a large inventory…………just take orders from your floor samples.
So as you can see, the Pittsburgh and surrounding area was covered with these small independently owned foundries. There were hundreds and possibly even thousands of them back then. So it also stands to reason that the majority of our population back then was east of the Mississippi River to the east coast. So that’s where bed hunting was the best. At least for about 30 years. As time went on and more and more people got turned on to metal beds and those people throughout the east realized the beds they were setting on had real monetary value……. the supplies started to dwindle at an alarming rate. As that happened , hunting for beds starting moving farther west.
Chicago had a number of great foundries that were quite well known. The foundries we’re aware of in the Chicago area were much much larger foundries than the small Ma & Pa cottage foundries around Pittsburgh. Their designs were much more diverse . Some of the large foundries offered as many as two dozen different styles.
So even though I’d never divulge my “pickers” or regions we’re now going in to…….. follow the population through out history back in the 1800’s and you’ll get a good handle on where I continue to go to find my antique iron beds.
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.
I also invite you to take a look at the multiple “Before & After” photo’s on our