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Catalog Data

Cast iron
ca. 1920
Cast- and wrought-iron fence composed of chains and bells. This drape style fencing previously surrounded the Lincoln Memorial.
Label Text:
In the nineteenth century, fences around the home and garden provided many benefits; Not only did fencing clearly delineate one’s property, it provided protection for everything within its walls. Fences kept crops and plants from being trampled or eaten by loose animals, confined its occupants from wandering away, served as an impetus to theft, and offered privacy. By the middle of the nineteenth century, mass production made cast-and wrought-iron fencing readily available to the middle class, and it quickly became widely popular. Coming in tasteful forms with decorative motifs, fences made from iron were still able to be thinner and less obtrusive than those constructed from other materials, yet it could provide a sufficient structural barrier. It was placed surrounding cemetery plots, gardens, fields, along railroad tracks, bordering sidewalks, around houses, churches, parks, and public buildings.
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. Iron fences were manufactured in separate components, including posts, pickets, hardware, and finials, in a variety of designs and styles. 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. Special orders for monograms or subject matters could also be had, in addition to many recognizable themes.
fences  Search this
bells (idiophones)  Search this
chains  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1985.026.a, b, c
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens