The History Of Fireplace Andirons

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  • Author Gene Henry
  • Published March 19, 2011
  • Word count 533

The History Of Fireplace Andirons

Fireplace andirons may sound new for some but these fireplace accessories have actually been around for a really long time already. When I say a really long time, I mean since the 1600s. However, the designs used on them have evolved to a really huge extent.

Sturdy forged iron designs for fireplace andirons have been manufactured in the United States ever since the early days of colonization when the fireplace was used for both cooking and heating purposes.

Because of the fact that larger pieces of wood have the ability to burn for a much longer span of time, a fitting design was required to hold big logs in place. Forged iron is basically a process wherein a piece of metal is heated in order to make it malleable. After which, the andiron is then bent and hammered in order to give it shape and form. Because this process was done manually, variations between pairs of andirons were really common back then. In addition, the shafts and legs of the andiron were made individually. This is why hand rivets are seen on the earliest designs.

Brass varieties started to be produced in America during the late 1600s and they were used inside formal rooms. Right after the American Revolution, it was considered to unpatriotic for people to do imports from England. However, a large number of wealthy households brought in large numbers of French designs. Between the years 1790 and 1810, there were large quantities of brass foundries established in the United States. All of them were dedicated to producing andirons made from brass. Back then, European styles were often copied however unique American designs were also produced and a large number of them signified patriotic symbols, which made them a really popular choice for the masses. Paul Revere is considered as a notable craftsman of household brass items and andirons were one of his creations.

Commonly used designs on classical andirons included claw feet, slipper feet, and ball feet. Aside from these design elements, tall shafts were also used to keep the logs in place. These tall shafts were topped with urns, balls, steeple tops, and flame tips.

The more recent varieties of these fireplace accessories were made with short shanks. They typically measured less than 8 inches in length. These pieces became very popular in London. Even though most of Londoners that time were burning peat or coal, they still highly appreciated the formal designs that were used to make andirons. This was highly evident during the Victorian era and still continues to be up to today.

During the Industrial Revolution cast iron became a highly preferred material and is still considered a good choice by many today. Cast iron is made using a process which involves pouring hot metal inside molds. This allowed forth mass production. These pieces were available in all types of style imaginable. When cast iron pieces were at their peak, Americana was really popular, which is why designs that incorporated eagles, George Washington, arrows, ships, and owls were commonly used.

Regardless of the type of pieces that you use, you will discover that these accessories will add more beauty to your fireplace at home.

Learn more about fireplace andirons at the Georgetown Fireplace & Patio website.

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