From the days when Lincoln was in office and Billy the Kid roamed the wild west, to when two brothers called Wilbur and Orville took to the skies at Kitty Hawk, and when Chief executive Woodrow Wilson announced our entry into the 1st World war, iron beds provided people the custom made craftsmanship and top quality these folks had come to expect from their era.
On April 6th 1917 the US entered the 1st World War, bringing to a close the production of this style of bed, due to our nations overwhelming necessity of all readily available iron for armaments and the war effort.
4 years later when the war ended, styles changed and production techniques were revolutionized… hence the Industrial Revolution. Hand produced “one of a kind” items, were no longer price “effective” and became a thing of the past. There have been quite a few modest foundries in the East around Pittsburgh, Pa, Wheeling, West Virginia and as far west as Chicago, Il that took great pride in their own original designs. At this time in history the majority of the iron ore being produced in this country was coming out of the Pittsburgh steel mills. It was very advantageous for the numerous small independently owned foundries to locate their businesses close to the source of materials needed to produce their iron beds. That way it wasn’t necessary to invest their limited capital to stockpile large amounts of raw materials. It was more prudent and cost effective to only purchase raw materials for those orders that were coming in. Being close to the source of these raw materials meant it was only a days ride by horse drawn wagon……not weeks waiting for them to be shipped, to secure the needed materials. Often using only a few people, these modest foundries could take days to generate one single bed.
Beds had castings that were hand poured from ladles into sand cast molds. The quality of a bed was often determined by the detailing the casting designers put into their molds. The more elaborate and finely detailed a casting was, usually followed suit with the overall caliber and popularity of the bed. Finishes were varied and might range from uncomplicated white to several hues with detailed “gold guilding” on the castings. For these good reasons and the restricted quantities of bed frames built by these modest foundries, it is rare that you’ll uncover a similar bed more than once. Back in the mid 1800’s, the iron being manufactured in The United States was far superior to that of Europes. Beds made in this country were far superior to those being made anywhere else in the world.
Our tubing was thicker walled and the iron castings our artisans designed were much more detailed and fanciful than that of Victorian England. When brass was added, for contrast and ornamentation to the iron, ours was thick and durable. European brass, once again, was very thin and susceptible to cracking and denting. It is strongly suggested if you’re in the market for an antique iron bed frame, you make sure it was made in this country back in the mid 1800’s. Because of the top quality, materials employed, and craftsmanship, beds made in this country back in the 1800’s are far more collectible, desirable and valuable in contrast to any others in the world.
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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