First used by the Chinese, cast iron parts were made in 550 BC. In the 18th century there were numerous small foundries in the east and even as far west as Chicago. They took great pride and care in their designs. These small foundries can take days to make a single bed. The crude iron was melted and poured by hand and into molds. The finishes were varied and could range from plain white to beds with multiple color combinations with gold accents on the castings. Due to the meticulous methods used to produce iron bed frames, it is rare to find duplicate designs. There is simply no substitute for a hand-forged iron bed by a skilled foundry craftsman. These beds have stood the test of time.
Iron furniture was first introduced into American homes in the 1840s. Beds ranged from very simple and straightforward designs to elegant, ornate styles, especially towards the end of the 19th century. Until that time, iron was mainly used for garden and patio pieces, urns, benches and also for architectural and structural pieces such as porch and step railings, corbels, domes, etc.
The style of iron beds produced during the Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Arts and Crafts periods greatly influenced styles, especially Victorian and Art Nouveau. Iron was so well suited for fancy creations that it satisfied people’s taste for ornate beds during these periods.
The beauty of having an iron bed is the ease with which it can be incorporated into any style of decorating a room and with any color. These beds match any type of wood furniture from cherry to pine to painted or dark walnut in the room, complementing virtually any style. They have never gone out of style, they probably never will, but they are in especially high demand these days. A beautiful aged patina with worn paint is extremely popular now and antique iron beds definitely meet those requirements.