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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Iron, Brass, and Copper Andirons, Door Knockers, Candlesticks, Warming Pans, and Bellows

FOR THE COLLECTOR of iron, brass, and copper there are many different household articles available, including door knockers and andirons of iron and brass, candlesticks and snuffers, and warming pans as well as bellows made of brass, wood, and leather. All of these articles are available and most of them reasonable in price.



Although andirons are too large to be of interest to the average collector, those who have houses with several fireplaces may be interested in collecting several types. The earliest andirons, or "dogs" as they were called, were of wrought iron. They were made by a blacksmith or handhammered by the man of the house. These andirons had simple curved legs and feet and usually a straight flattened shaft and an enlarged top or head. Sometimes the head was looped to hold a roasting spit or it might be a colonial pigtail or a flattened scroll, heart shape, or ogee type. Other hand-wrought heads were gooseneck with a ball top or goose head with a bill; sometimes the shaft was twisted and ended in a ring top. In the last half of the 18th century hand-wrought andirons often had a brass head in the shape of a ball or a sunflower face. The earliest andirons usually had hooks to hold a spit for roasting meat, and some had a basket top to hold a grease cup. Early cast-iron dogs were made with a straight shaft, which was often decorated with a geometric pattern. Such andirons made in England often had a date cast in the shaft. About the middle of the 18th century andirons were cast in designs especially suited to American tastes. These cast-iron andirons often actually had primitive dog, owl, or eagle heads. Other early designs were of Adam and Eve or busts of women.

To this list may be added the name of David Lindsay of Carlisle, who made copper stills of various sizes in yqz, and Henry Grottman, who is certainly from Pennsylvania, although I have not been able to place him as to date or city.

In 1796 Matthias Babb opened his coppersmith shop in Reading, Pennsylvania, at his house, where he made and repaired "stills, wash kettles, tea kettles, and all sorts of copperware. Kopper tea kettles for store keepers."

From 1800, the coppersmiths are too numerous to list. There were twenty-five in Philadelphia alone, and as many in other large cities. As their business grew along 19th-century commercial lines, it became the common practice to mark much of their goods. J. P. Schaum and Samuel Diller of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, worked late in the 19th century and stamped their wares. Wash kettles and large apple-butter kettles were much in demand among the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers.

The most common copper articles to be found are pots, kettles, teakettles, stills, measures, and ladles and skimmers. Urns, braziers, chocolate pots, and warming pans are rarer and thus bring higher prices.

Utensils of copper are both hammered and cast. The early utensils were hammered out of sheet copper with a wooden hammer over an iron mold. Spouts and handles were riveted on by hand. Pans and kettles and ladles, dippers, and skimmers, usually had a handle of hand-wrought iron riveted on the body of the utensil. The blacksmith usually made the handle. Sometimes the handles are of copper tubing, or a short hollow copper handle may hold a longer handle of wood. The bottoms of old kettles were separate from the sides and were cut in a pattern of tooth edges that joined to the sides of the utensil. Bottoms of kettles wore out sooner than the sides and were often replaced. Although not many early articles of copper are marked, there are enough to make the search rewarding. Marks are stamped on the handles of teakettles, ladles, and pots and on the sides of large wash kettles or apple-butter kettles. A large copper apple-butter kettle in the collection of the Landis Valley Museum is marked "P. Schaum."

Old copper may be identified by its workmanship, which not only includes hand riveting but hammer marks and irregularities of shape. Handwrought iron handles are also found on old pieces.

About 1780 the Hessian soldier, smokers, and the figure of George Washington were especially popular as were, later, ships and houses. Some of these designs were also made much later, and such andirons as the ship, owl, and eagle have been copied today. "Brass andirons, tongs, and fender" were listed in a New York inventory of 1740, in 1767 "brass knobed andirons," and in 1783 "brass headed andirons." By 1780 the English brass founders of Sheffield and Birmingham were issuing trade catalogues, so it was easy for American braziers and brass founders to follow the English models. Thus it is difficult today to distinguish American from English cast brass. As early as 1744 copper and brass pipkins or coal buckets were also made. English pipkins followed the styles of Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, and many of these were imported to America. However, there were brass founders in America in the latter part of the 18th century, and in 1794 Peter Van Norden, brass founder of Bound Brook, New Jersey, advertised "brass and iron andirons, candlesticks, shoe and knee buckles," in the Guardian or New Brunswick Advertiser. Cities as large as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston had as many as a halfdozen brass founders at this date.

Wrought-iron andirons with brass knobs with facet cuttings and a flame top date late in the 18th century. Andirons with spiral knobbed turnings and a similar top were made entirely of brass, and similar brass and irons with claw-and-ball feet were made by Paul Revere & Son in about 1800. Such a pair is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The classic influence of Adam influenced the shape of andirons, and vaseshaped shafts were made in the second quarter of the r 8th century. At first the vases were large and were a part of the shaft itself, but later the vase moved up the shaft and the shaft finally became a narrow column with a vase finial. Similar andirons also had steeple tops and others had round ball tops or flame tops, while still others had lemon tops. All of these various styles had pad feet or claw-and-ball feet and pillar or turned shafts. In the 19th century the shaft was made up of heavy turnings and often ended with a ball top, but many of the earlier styles also continued to be made.

Andirons are seldom marked, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns not only the marked andirons made by Paul Revere but also a pair made by J. Davis of Boston that date from the early 19th century. These have slipper feet, a straight base shaft, and a ball with a steeple top. T. De Coudres, a worker in copper, brass, and tin in Newark, New Jersey, from 1825 to 1840 often marked his brass andirons. William C. Hunneman of Boston and Roxbury, Massachusetts, made and marked some brass andirons as well as kettles, skillets, candlesticks, and warming pans.



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