No photo I’ve seen evokes quite as much sorrow and despair as this one with a man setting on a bed at a “Poor House” in Perry County Missouri.
If you look close, the bed in the photo is missing the brass treatment on the footboard that can be seen on the headboard. The corner brass balls and horizontal brass bar were probably sold for scrap, as everything of value during this time was salvage and turned into money for food or lodging.
Iron beds can conjure up a sense of prosperity or one of dire poverty, as this one does. Yet through it all, they seemed to have been used in a broader variety of situations throughout history than any other bed frame. In hospitals metal beds were universally used. In rest homes, they were used and throughout army barracks across the country, and were the only bed frame used.
Throughout history, antique iron beds are as American as apple pie.