Most people have an image of large manufacturing companies that employed dozens, even hundreds of men, that produced iron beds back in the 1800’s. Although there were a few larger manufactures of iron beds…….the majority of all the iron beds that were being produced were coming from small independently owned foundries in which only a few men, sometimes as few as two, would labor all day long just to produce one or two iron beds. That’s why there is such a diversity in styles. For over thirty years I’ve seen and sold thousands of iron beds. Although I’ve seen many of them repeatedly, there are still a number of iron beds we’ll come across or see that we’ve never come across before.
Much of the time those small independently owned foundries were run by the town Blacksmith, because of his knowledge of metals and the furnaces they usually had made foundry work a natural progression from making horse shoes out of raw metal stock. So iron beds were a way for the town Blacksmith to adapt and stay in business.
Iron beds had to be hand poured in sand cast molds. Each individual casting on the iron bed was poured with very hot iron ore. That’s one of the reasons the number of iron beds that are around today have survived.
Small independently owned foundries were the heart of the iron bed, and what made them so unique and collectible.