Since the Pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower, man had to come up with a way to elevate himself off the ground when he slept. The easiest way to do that in a world that had yet to be settled or cleared was with wood. Wooden bed frames were also what was being used in Europe before man discovered this country. So it was natural for the first settlers to use the skills they had in the old country and build what they needed from wood. For close to 300 years wood was the only thing bed frames were made out of.
It happened to be two primary things…………..
It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention”. That being the case, in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s man had grown increasingly unhappy with the wooden beds that had served him so well those first 300 years. His displeasure came in the form of a tiny little insect called a Termite. I also was accompanied by rats and rodents that infested many of the city dwelling apts. and homes. Metal beds seemed to be the answer to both of those problems. Foundries and manufacturers of iron beds made the higher off the ground to help eliminate the pesky little creatures. Termites automatically wanted nothing to do with the cast beds. When there was nothing for them to consume…… they moved on.
So why did it take three hundred years for man to start makingmetal beds. It was the process of acquiring the proper materials to be able to make cast beds. Cast iron was not being refined in the way that was needed until the early 1800’s. The Bessemer process was the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron. The process is named after its inventor, Henry Bessemer, who took out a patent on the process in 1855. The process was independently discovered in 1851 by William Kelly. The process had also been used outside of Europe for hundreds of years, but not on an industrial scale. The key principle is removal of impurities from the iron by oxidation with air being blown through the molten iron. The oxidation also raises the temperature of the iron mass and keeps it molten.
The Steel Mills in Pittsburgh started turning out the highest grade of steel, anywhere in the world. This enables people to start making steel tubing and pig iron, that could then be refined into cast iron and poured into molds to form the castings you see on antique iron beds today.
Had it not been for the Termite and the Bessemer Process ……… we may still be sleeping exclusively in wooden beds, and cast beds may yet to have been discovered.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
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