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Catalog Data

Cast iron, wood, paint
55 in. (139.7 cm)
Hitching posts
Victorian (1837-1901)
Wooden hitching post with cast-iron horse head finial. The post is made from turned wood that swells at the top and bottom. Remnants of white paint remain on the post, and the finial is painted black. The finial is composed of a segment of a fluted column with rings on either side to tie up the animal. It is topped by a horse that appears to be untamed due to the position of its ears, wide eyes, and open-mouth. Below the chin is an iron rod support. Equine themes were popular ornamentation for hitching posts because they were connected 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.
Label Text:
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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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens