When it comes to the designs we see in antique iron and brass beds from the late 18th and early 19th century, it should come as no real surprise that those designs could have manifested themselves from just about anything that was in common use. Yet as time went on, many of those things have been replaced with newer things to take their place in history. Car’s have taken the place of horses for everyday transportation…….nail-guns have all but replaced hammers for their speed and efficiency; circular saw’s have taken the place of hand saws etc . etc. etc.
So when an old design was used, that doesn’t look familiar to us today……..it may be because we have no “reference point” as to where it may have originated. The attached photo, may help put the two designs in perspective. In a recently viewed book on Etymology, the “helm” is listed as “an instrument by which a ship is steered,” from Old English helma “rudder; position of guidance, control,”
I doubt a relationship between the definition of a “helm” and the design on an antique iron & brass bed, would ever hold much water…..”no pun intended”. But it would be easy to see how the geometric shape of the “ships helm” could easily influence the eye of a designer. Those who were given the task of continually coming up with new and appealing designs to help sell antique iron and brass beds to the public, probably looked high and low for every and anything to draw attention to their beds. As we all know, “claw feet” were a very popular motif in Victorian furniture and on antique iron beds. The same holds true with the use of flowers and vine designs that were depicted in the detailed castings which help together the iron rods a pieces used on th bed frames.
So when you see a bed with a circular “helm” design like this………close your eyes and conjure up an image of tall sailing ships on their way to the ‘new world’ and Christopher Columbus with his hands on the helm looking for land.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative and entertaining. I also hope you’ll take the time to revisit my website and see all the antique iron beds and countless antique fuax’ finishes we have to offer.