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Catalog Data

Cast iron, wood
40 × 6 1/4 in. (101.6 × 15.9 cm)
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron and wood post, possibly a baluster or a lamppost, fence, or hitching post. The post consists of wooden connection points at the top and bottom and the cast-iron portion includes a base, column, and capital. The base and capital are round, and the column is fluted.
Label Text:
In the nineteenth century, cast iron manufactories were able to achieve a high enough temperature to produce fluid iron that was poured into intricate molds of compressed sand. Once the iron had cooled, it was removed from the mold. Rough places and sharp edges were then filed away before the piece was bolted together. It would then be painted, varnished, galvanized, or bronzed several times to prevent rust. By the middle of the nineteenth century, mass production made cast-iron fencing readily available to the middle class, and it quickly became widely popular. Iron fencing was adapted to suit the needs of city or country properties in strength, design, and height, which generally ranged from three to seven feet. It was placed surrounding cemetery plots, gardens, fields, along railroad tracks, bordering sidewalks, around houses, churches, parks, and public buildings. Iron fences were manufactured in separate components, including posts, pickets, hardware, and finials, in a variety of designs and finishes. Fences followed the trends of the time with natural forms, ornamental motifs pulled from historic revival styles, and complicated shapes. Numerous combinations were possible, the most successful mixtures corresponded stylistically with the other elements, as well as the accompanying gates. The Victorian love of ornament saw many posts capped with finials or decorative motifs applied to the surfaces.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens