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Buying Your First Antique Iron Bed...
"Wage warfare against wooden beds and you wage it against one of the greatest disease-breeders of the present day. No dust nor germs nor vermin can find lodgement in an iron bed."
So was the cry heard from the iron bed makers in the late 1800's. Instead of celebrating their product's elegant, sensual designs, warm colors and impressive craftsmanship, early ads for iron beds attacked the wooden competition as being unsanitary and likely to make you sick.

While there was a modicum of truth that certain insects might be more attracted to sleeping with you in a wood bed, the contest was really about beauty not bugs. Should centuries-old advertising or sanitation problems play a part in the purchase of your antique iron bed? Probably not. But there are a few important details you do need to consider.

Clarity of Design Iron beds are created as a stylized arrangement of tubes and rods all held together by highly crafted pieces of cast iron known as castings. The abundance and the clarity of design inherent in these castings are the qualities that give the antique iron bed its value, character and weight.
   

There are 3 serious problems associated with antique iron frames: missing or badly-fitting side rails, broken hitches (the point at which the rails connects to the bed) and extreme rust Rails are not interchangeable. Original or properly fitting rails will offer a snug, tight feel with little movement of the headboard. Poorly fitted rails will present a severe wobble in the head and footboard that only gets worse when you get into the bed.

Any weld marks appearing on the cast iron hitches indicates that, at some point, the hitch failed and cracked. It also tells you that an amateur welder attempted to repair the problem.

Cast iron, however, is very difficult to weld properly, especially when it is in a crucial, stress-point location designed to keep you from falling to the floor. As a rule, A I B does not purchase frames with broken or repaired hitches

Rust is an interesting color, but not when it shows up on your nice, expensive off-white bedding. A little hint of it in the cracks and crevices of a bed's castings is acceptable, but finding a blanket of rust anywhere on the frame is a red flag. Unless eliminated by a professional sandblaster, like the ones employed by A I B, the rust will eventually become a member of the family.

     
Heavy Weights When choosing an iron bed for your master bedroom, it's helpful to do a little exploration of your lifestyle. If you're a type "A" personality, and simply need to create an attractive place to sleep for a few hours, then a thinner gauge frame that isn't filled with bold, heavy castings will work perfectly.

If, however, you're one who loves to read or watch TV in bed, then your headboard needs to be heavier with more density in the interior design for added support. And look for thick tubing and lots of heavy castings if your bed will serve as a hangout for family, friends and/or pets.
   
Antique brass can be a beautiful accent to an antique iron bed - if it's treated properly. Dents and dings are acceptable facts, especially if the brass is irreplaceable. But the last thing you want when you go to bed at night is the sound of rattles and creaks. Restoration can be difficult. Only the most patient of artisans can bring back the color and luster, without stripping away the beauty that time has given it and restore the solid fit that these soft metal details demand.
     
Retain or Refinish When shopping for an antique iron bed it's important not to make your choice based on the existing finish. Most frames have been painted over many times and usually with lead-based paints. Cleaning and sealing an existing finish can be acceptable for adults who are aware of that fact. For children, however, we recommend that we sandblast the old paint off and refinish with safe paint in colors that work with your decor.

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A I B/The American Iron Bed Company Email Telephone (800) 378-1742