“One of a Kind” is a phrase thrown around way to often. But when it comes to antique iron bed frames from the 1800’s, it’s near impossible to label one of them with this title. The best you can hope for is when it comes from someone who has been in the antique trade, and specifically the antique iron bed business for a long period of time. Hence, my own resume, of 50 years and having seen and sold literally thousands of antique iron beds from the 1800’s. There are those beds that are quite prolific and plentiful. They were popular designs that were copied by many of the small independently owned foundries that produced iron beds from small foundries for the surrounding communities and towns.
One of the terms used back then was “Commission Bed”. As might be expected, the term refers to an iron bed that a small foundry was asked to make, for an affluent client…..with the understanding that once it was made, the “casting moulds” would be destroyed, so never to be used again, and the design was also never to be repeated in its exact form. Quite often the production of such an iron bed was such that it wasn’t practical for mass consumption anyway. This was due to the size and weight that usually accompanied a design by a novice and not a designer of iron beds who was concerned with the production cost to the public in general. I have had “commission” beds that were incredibly beautiful and intricate in their design, with large detailed iron castings that required larger thick wall tubing for the structural strength and rigidity of the frame. With all these elements involved, shipping a “commission” bed was prohibitive to the general public.
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