Pair of cast-iron hitching posts with horse head finials. Each post is composed of three pieces: a post and two tassels on a chain. The column of the post is fluted with three registers, topped by a horse head finial. On either side of the horse’s mouth are two large rings, creating the appearance of bridle bit in its mouth. From each of the rings hangs a short length of chain terminating in a large, iron tassel. Equine themes were popular ornamentation for hitching posts, and were appropriate to their use. Horse heads were one of more common types of finials for hitching posts offered by cast iron makers, and many foundries made variations of this design.
A hitching post or tethering post was used to tie up a horse, or other animal, to prevent it from wandering away by looping the reigns or leads through a ring attached to a post. These were important in the days before the automobile, as horses were ridden or carriages were driven from one destination to the next, and usually left unattended while their owners attended to other business. Hitching posts were found outside of homes, barns, and public places. The Victorian love of ornament led to many of these posts being adorned with a decorative motif on the post or finial, and designs were often chosen to complement the architecture. Today, hitching posts are sometimes seen in front of buildings or in gardens as nostalgic symbols of the past.
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