When it comes to iron beds that were being made back in the 1800’s, there were 5 specific size categories. Yet even within those five categories beds could vary in width quite a bit, especially in the Twin Size category.
The five different categories of beds were:
Crib Size : These usually were very close in size to what today’s crib sizes are, approximately 49″ long x 26″ wide. This size could vary slightly between manufacturers back then.
Youth Size : This grouping was usually right around 31″ in width x 75″ in length. It was not an overly popular bed size, as it took up the same amount of length space as a twin or double size bed, 75″. The reason for it’s lack of popularity was impractical use. They were barely wide enough to handle anyone other than a small child……not even a teenager. Consequently there are very few of them around today.
Twin Size : Beds in this size category vary more than any other. I’ve seen them at 36″ wide all the way up to 42″ wide. This happened because manufacturers hadn’t yet found it advantageous to standardize sizes and anything else in everyday use for that matter.
Originally known as the Office of Standard Weights and Measures, Congress created an agency in 1824 within the Treasury Department to establish and promote the consistent use of uniform weights and measures. In 1890, Congress established the Office of Construction of Weights and Measures, and in 1894, it authorized that office to define and establish the units of electrical measure. In 1901, the name was changed to the National Bureau of Standards, where its responsibilities were expanded to address the growing use of electricity. In 1903, it was moved to the Department of Commerce and became involved in promoting the use of technology as a means of increasing the international competitiveness of American businesses. But prior to all this, manufacturers constructed things in less than standardized sizes.
3/4 Size : This was ever so slightly more practical than a Youth Size, because it could accommodate two small children or one regular size adult. It usually measured between 44″ to 48″ in width. Surprisingly enough the were a number of really well designed 3/4 sizes with some really beautiful curves and scrolling. Although there are mattresses made today for 3/4 size bed frames, the most practical thing to do is just put a double size mattress on it and let the mattress hang out on both sides equidistantly. It’s only a couple inch overhang on both sides….quite negligible.
Double/Full Size : Nearly 85 to 90% of all the beds that were made back in the 1800’s were a standard double/full size . They measured 54″ in width and 75″ in length. Although box springs had yet to be invented back during the “hay-day” of iron beds, wire mesh units clipped on to the side rails and supported the feather mattresses that were being used back them. Beds were lumpy and quite uncomfortable. But full mattress sizes varied in width very very little and still are the same today in width.
Collectors of iron beds today can rest assured they’re able to use their larger size mattresses on the old originals. Adjustments do have to be made. King size requires a considerable amount of cutting and welding of new materials, pouring new castings in the width that has to be created etc. Regarding queen size conversions…..they can be achieved in the same manner or what we normally do which is just weld the side rails longer and let the difference in width of the mattress hang over the sides on the double size frame. It’s a negligible amount that is easily covered up with the use of linens quilts blankets etc.
So although our forefathers didn’t have the advantage of larger size mattresses etc……..we’re still able to enjoy the charm those beds gave them back then.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
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