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Catalog Data

Cast iron, paint
12 1/2 × 22 in. (31.8 × 55.9 cm)
Colonial Revival
Victorian (1837-1901)
Pineapple finial made of cast iron. Larger finials, particularly those with a great deal of detailing such as pineapples, could be used a garden decoration and placed on a pedestal to raise it a foot or two for visibility or as the termination point of a vertical design element such as a gatepost. The pineapple is historically the symbol of hospitality. The pineapple was first imported into England about 1720 by John Loodsworth, who returned from America with a pineapple as a gift from the chief of a tribe of South American Indians. It became a highly popular finial design in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Label Text:
A finial is a decorative feature on the top or end of an object or structure. These ornamental devices were usually made of stone or iron. In the Victorian era, the love of ornamentation often led to the widespread application of finials in all their variations and manifestations as an adjunct to architecture and design. Smaller finials, often made of metal or wood were used as decorative devices on the tops or ends of poles, rods, furnishings and decorative arts objects. Flag poles, curtain rods, bed posts, clocks, and silver services were all popular locations for finials to appear. Larger finials, particularly those with a great deal of detailing such as pineapples, could stand alone in planting or upon a pedestal to raise them up a foot or two for visibility. Large finials also appeared atop monumental gateposts or on architecture to highlight the tops of domes, spires, towers, roofs, gable, or the corner or a building or structure. Finial designs created the first impression of a visitor to the estate or garden. Impressive posts capped with monumental finials were carefully chosen to embellish entries and raise the standard of the house. In addition to their decorative effects, finials were functional as well. They often top gateway posts to allow rain and snow to shed off quickly without much buildup. This greatly reduces the amount of water that seeps downward to saturate the core of the post.
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Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
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