Twin size iron beds have been around since the late 19th century when they were hand made by craftsmen and artisans who would hand pour the iron and then polish detailed castings. Then finishes were hand applied to these twin size beds. Until World War I, they were manufactured by hand in American foundries on the east coast, all the way west to Chicago. American made beds were considered far superior to European beds made at the same time, because the iron being produced in this country, from the Pittsburgh Steel Mills, was far superior to any other steel in the world. So the American beds of that period were some of the finest in the world. Antique iron beds were made one at a time – crafted by hand and could take days to complete a single bed. All good things come to an end as did the bed “heyday” in America as we entered World War I. The iron that was being used to create the beds, was now needed for the war effort.
As the war drew to a close and the start of the industrial revolution got into full gear, so did drastic changes in the way beds were manufactured and many other hand crafted items of the period. Mass production showed manufactures a way to increase their bottom line and these mass production techniques spread through out all industries including the bed industry. The meticulous handmade craftsmanship that produced unique individual beds in the past, were replaced by assembly lines, where more beds could be made in the same amount of time.
Twin beds had never been overly popular back in the 1800’s because of practicality. Remember..houses were smaller and what space was available needed to be used as efficiently as possible. Most bedrooms could accommodate a double size bed. A double size bed could accommodate quite a few small children, sleeping width wise….3 maybe even 4 children, in that one bed. Whereas a Twin size could really only accommodate 1 person. So far fewer twins were made and even fewer still exit today. A good percentage of my clients have me convert the regular twin size beds of the 1800’s to daybeds, by lowering the headboard down to the height of the footboard. With neck roll pillows on either end, a twin size bed will take on the look of a couch. When put up against the wall, pillows can be propted up against the wall for a total couch look.
One of the nice things an antique twin size can do is accommodate a pop-up trundle unit. So two beds only take up the space of one, when the second one isn’t being used. This is possible because antique iron beds have the 13″ clearance needed for a trundle unit to stored under the primary twin frame.
Twin beds are extremely scarce these days. But well worth it when you can find them.