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Catalog Data

Cast iron
22 3/4 × 6 in. (57.8 × 15.2 cm)
Gothic Revival
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron post with crown capital. The post consists of a base, column, and capital. The simple rounded base is offset by the column with Gothic Revival architectural motifs. It has a large round capital with a crown on top. The major characteristics of the art, architecture, and decorative arts produced in nineteenth century are historicism, eclecticism, and mixing multiple styles together. The Gothic Revival style was one of the major styles of the Victorian era and reached the height of its popularity from 1840-1870; however, designs continued to be produced into the 1900s. This style adapted Gothic architectural forms and ornaments found in the churches and castles of Medieval Europe. Gothic Revival motifs included pointed arches, quatrefoils, trefoils, lozenges, pinnacles, crockets, trefoils, rosettes, tracery, and cluster columns.
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:
1984.099.a, b
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens