Story by Author Anne Baird – My name is Anne Baird, and I am a writer and illustrator of children’s books. I am also a journalist, who has worked for several small newspapers, including The Beacon, of the North Shore, as well as The Panama American, The Prince Rupert Daily News, and the English Language version of The News in Mexico City.
My heritage is Dutch, English and Canadian. But I am taking the liberty of writing to The Westcoast German News about one of my greatest treasures: my antique cast iron European (French or German) alcove bed! Perhaps your readers might be interested in hearing about it, and its history. Here is the story of my personal relationship with the piece.
In 1972, my husband, Joseph Baird, and I went to Los Angeles from London, England. We came because Joe had just been appointed the new President of Occidental Petroleum Corporation around 48 years ago!
Being a bit homesick for London, I traveled around the city trying to become familiar with it.
I hit upon Melrose Avenue, with its lovely antique shops, and was enchanted.
All of my furniture is antique. It was either inherited or purchased in London with the help and advice of my uncle, John Breukelman, who was a senior sales associate at Liberty’s of London for many years. Thanks to Uncle John, and my family, there are few pieces in my present living room/dining room under 100 years of age. At least. (Makes me feel like a youngster, at 83!)
I wandered into one of the Melrose antique stores and fell in love with an unlikely treasure. I was told it was an antique cast iron German alcove bed. It went with none of my other furniture, which is mostly English. But I couldn’t resist it. It had a kind of somber, Gothic sensibility with its exquisitely molded, contemplative figures, that made it unique in my experience. I was captivated.
Impulsively, I bought it, and had it carted to our home in Bel Air. There, it found its place as my youngest daughter’s bed. We had to build an alcove for it. Wallpaper choices were severely restricted by the elegiac color and tone of the piece. (No rosebuds for Amanda!) But she adored it. After that, it followed us wherever we went. Always at great expense and inconvenience. But it was unthinkable to part with it.
Now, circumstances have changed. My husband died, and I share my beautiful apartment in Vancouver, B.C., with a friend. It’s roomy, but not enormous. I had to lodge the bed on the covered patio, there being no houseroom for it within. But it remained, a beloved, indestructible oddity, posing as a couch. It invariably excites the interest and admiration of our guests.
The time has come, however, for me to find my much-loved cast-iron bed a new home.
I no longer remember the name of the store on Melrose Avenue where I bought it. I have no papers or receipts on it anymore. I don’t believe I ever requested them! I was young, and bought it for love, not for investment or as a collectible.
Here is a description: With depictions of Noblemen, birds, and other decorations cast into the front of this spectacular charmer, it is no wonder a connoisseur of fine art of will want to purchase this awesome day bed. Made to last 100’s if not 1000’s of years, this bed is one of the most striking ever seen. You will have never seen anything like it, much less a day bed, with this much character and detail. Easily utilized anywhere, it would be right at home in most formal or informal spaces; such as a front parlor, guest bedroom, or even the master bedroom retreat. The overall construction and style of this unique bed, make it an instant heirloom for many generations to come. Unique, one-of-a-kind antiques continuously get tougher and tougher to find, make no mistake, this is one of those items. If your senses are triggered by opulent and outrageous things, look no further as here it is!! Don’t miss this exquisite day bed, as you will never find another. Though this bed was burnished on all four sides, only the front offers these remarkable hand-sculpted depictions.
History of Iron Beds in general by Carly W:
Iron beds, metal or wrought iron beds have been around since the late 18th century when they were hand made by craftsmen and artisans. The iron castings were always hand poured and originated from sand cast molds. Finishes were varied and could range from simple white to multiple colors with detailed “gold gilding” on the castings. For these reasons and the limited numbers of iron bed frames produced by these small foundries, it is unusual that we uncover the same style cast iron bed more than once. Back in the mid 1800’s, for some reason, iron being produced in America was far superior to that of European exports. Our tubing was thicker walled and the iron castings our artisans designed were much more detailed and fanciful than that of Victorian England. When brass was added, for contrast and ornamentation, ours was thick and durable. As with European brass, which was very thin and susceptible to cracking and denting. These men took great pride in their own original designs. Sometimes employing only a few people, which in turn would take these small foundries days to make one single iron bed.
Until World War I, Iron Beds were manufactured by hand in American factories all over the east coast, even all the way to Chicago. In 1914 the United States entered the 1st World War, bringing to a close the production of iron beds due to our countries overwhelming need of all available iron for armaments and the war effort.
If you are interested in having this cast iron bed for your own, please contact me at Elke 604 828 8788.