I've always thought that 18th and 19th C. wrought iron belonged, with early lighting, in a separate category. Crafted largely of wrought and tinned iron and brass, the products of
early metalsmiths were designed for use but infused with personal style. They furnished
the kitchen, equipped the hearth, provided the light and made life in the colonies possible. Today these same pieces make life enjoyable as well. We'll bring you the best we can
find and we guarantee their authenticity.
Halsey Munson Americana
2707 Twin Oaks Court
Decatur, Illinois 62526
All rights reserved.
Wrought Iron Candleholder
With Wooden X-Base
In the world of truly early lighting, this is a fairly rare piece. It’s what lighting scholar John Caspall termed a “corner standard rushnip.” He was referring to 18th English lighting used to illuminate dark corners in traditionally under-lit homes. But this combination rushlight and candleholder has a spoke shaved white pine shaft standing on an X-form base of American white oak. 32” high and 15” across the base. The wrought iron element has a twistwork passage in the stem and the rushlight’s jaws are counterweighted by a pivoting arm that terminates in a wrapped cone candle socket. Ca. 1750-1800, found in Cornish, ME, and probably American.
Signed Early 19th C. Paint-Decorated Sheet Iron Candle Sconce
Less than 1% of all American painted tinware is signed, and the initials in yellow below the hanger hole are those of the unidentified decorator. The tinware industry started in Berlin, CT with the Pattison family who trained other tinsmiths over the years. Among them was Stephen North who later established his own tinshop in Fly River, NY. North grew a successful operation and trained his workers in the decorative styles he had learned in Connecticut. Martin and Tucker in their 4-volume American Painted Tinware show a Connecticut decorative form identical to the backplate on this sconce on p. 21 of Vol. 1. On pp. 84-91 they also illustrate a ropework form from the North tinshop that, although more vertical, is very similar to Berlin style. This sconce could be Berlin work, dating 1740-1850, or North tinshop work 1790-1841. A signed piece of American toleware in this condition is almost unprecedented. $1,875
Sand Weighted Double
Early 19th C. sheet iron tabletop candlestand with a double socket adjustable drip tray and a sand-weighted base. Usually, sand-ballasted stands adjust candle height with the friction of one or two sprung arms against the center post. This one is unusual in that a hidden mechanism inside the canister that supports the drip tray performs the same function. An uncommonly sophisticated design. Interestingly, an early owner elected to limit vertical travel by wrapping the post with thread and sealing it with wax, precisely like the collar that joins the blown glass bulbs of pre-1760 sand glasses. 31” tall.
Possible American Wrought Iron
Excellent pair of 18th C. wrought iron pipe or ember tongs. American or English, but given their weight and style of construction, quite likely American. Made by a skilled smith, the details are subtle and simple, but elegant. The tapering arms have precisely matching twistwork passages and end in leaf-shaped jaws with in-rolled tips to better grip the glowing coal on its way to the pipe. Boxed hinge with internal pivot, tamper stud and rattail hanger hook. 16½”L. A small group of similar pipe tongs were sold when the Sorber collection of early American iron went to auction in 2005.
Signed 18th C. Box Wax Jack
One of the less common forms of 18th C. wax jack. Most are much more elaborate with spring-loaded jaws and embellished columns. This is a simple box wax jack that probably would have sat on a desk; a canister with a lid mounting the equivalent of a candle socket. The wax snake is contained in the base and pulled up through the candle socket as it burned low. Typically, these provided the wax to seal letters and other documents. For the sake of accuracy there is denting to the loop handle. 3½”H x 3”W.
Remarkable 19th C. Figural Gate Lock
Mid-to-late 1800s iron gate lock in the form of a violin. These are fairly uncommon and, when they do turn up, they’re usually heavily rusted and inoperative. This one is not, and has a beautiful warm patina with no rust at all. Constructed from heavy gauge sheet iron, all the parts—the body, the shank and the neck—are riveted. When the key is turned, the neck and fingerboard detach and slide off the curved shank. The upper surface of the body is decorated with hand-stamped designs. There’s some disagreement about where these were made. My guess is Germany and made for export. A successful meeting of form and function and an example of this lock form is on display in the Jehning Lock Museum in California. 12” L. With the original key.
Correct Set of Wrought Iron
Forged iron skewers in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries were found on almost every hearth, indispensable at mealtimes for pinning meat onto the roasting spit. Why so few early sets have survived is uncertain, but that rarity has prompted a flood of “reproductions,” produced in 20th C. mild steel, not wrought iron, by overseas craftsmen. Probably 80% of all skewer holders on the market today are modern. Perhaps more. These are not. One of the few honest sets I’ve seen in 30 years, the smithing technique is consistent from skewers to holder, the face of which is slightly crested. Probably New England, but these could have been forged anywhere between Maine and Maryland. Late 18th/early 19th C. 9¾”h. The 6 skewers vary between 5¼” and 5⅜” in length. Ex-Skinner collection, ex-David Good.
Signed 17th C. Bullseye Lantern
Scarce signed 17th/18th C. hammered red brass bullseye lantern with pierced and repousse body decoration. Virtually all bullseye lanterns of this period are sheet brass. Rolled and perforated sheet iron came later. But a signed example in this condition is nothing short of exceptional. Encircling the underside is a ring of die punched maker signatures: “E. Favier.” All original, from the hanging ring, to the crenellated roof, to the blown bullseye lens. Either English or possibly French or Belgian. Ca. 1670-1710. 8”H x 3” diameter. See pp. 226 of John Caspall’s Fire and Light for illustrations and a discussion of comparable candle lanterns.
Ca. 1740 Wood and Iron Carved Rushlight
Unique 18th C. turned wood and wrought iron rush light on a chip-carved rootwork tripod base. The jaws of the wrapped charcoal iron section are spring-driven and the overlap of the cone-form iron socket is secured with a roseheaded rivet and topped by a serpentine finial. The wooden sections retain their original vegetable stained surface and one leg is incised with the christogram, “IHS” (In Hoc Signo) surmounted by a cross, a symbol dating to the 14th C. and used later in France and England as a powerful protective talisman. Chips, shrinkage cracks. Either England or France, possibly for export. Ca. 1740-1800. 23” H.