Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fire Screen, not a Fire Screen!

English Regency , Rosewood, Cheval Type, Fire Screen  with Needlepoint .

Hand Painted English Fire Pole with Windsor Castle Scene.

English Victorian Rosewood Fire Pole with Needlepoint.
 To start off  with today, I would like to report that The Mississippi River, out front of my house, is at a stand still, as of now. We had the first of many crest. We usually have at least four. At this time the river is going down a little, but, is to come back up in the next few days, to about the height it was at Easter Sunday. Stay for a few more days and go down a little more. This could go on for most of the summer. I know it is not good to have a flood wall on our main street and a city park under water for most of the summer, but, it is far better than a major flood. The streets are mostly all open in town now, we have sand bags down the sidewalks, so our customers have to go a little out of there way, but, we are open and ready for business. Thanks for all your prayers and good luck comments. It meant a lot to me.
    You are also probably trying to figure out the title of todays post. Well you see, there are fire screens that are made to catch sparks and hot coals that might tumble out of the fireplace. These are made of metal and have a wire mess inside. Then there are fire screens that were made to control the heat. These were most often made of wood and had needlepoint or glass inserts inside. The subject of todays post is that type of fire screen.

French Brass Fire Screen (guard )

Iron and Mess Fire Screen ( guard) Kitchen .

    I would maybe start out with a brief history of the fireplaces in our homes that were made to use as a heat source. The earliest method providing interior heating was an open fire contained in a fire box. Families gathered around the fire to keep warm and also to cook. In England, the fireplaces were recognizable as early as from the 12th century. Initially the fireplace was an open fire on the ground in the center of a house,positioned against a wall. In the begining years,it was made of stone.soon brick was the more popular media for building fireplaces.Mantel were introduced in the 16th century and were made of wood, stone, marble or metal..  For the Victorian people, fire places were the main source of getting heat during the freezing cold weather. Fireplaces were found in every room of a Victorian home. During cooler months of the year, open fires roared in virtually every house in the land. Real fires were the primary source of domestic heat. But though the cracking blaze was  warm and cozy ,the fierce heat given off did not suite every one gathered around the fire-some roasted while others feet were cold. So this is when the fire screen came into its own.By placing the screen in front of the fire the heat from the fire could be controlled.

English Rosewood  Cheval  Screen .

Down River Parlor . Example of Fire Fender.

     There was also a fire screen that was used for a total different purpose. This screen- also known as a fireguard, is placed in front of a fireplace to protect the occupants of the room from sparks or a log rolling out. This screen also shields them from flying embers and flames from the open fire. The early types of these screens made of forges iron and looked more like a iron fence piece. Latter then became more decorative and were made of brass, iron with screen mesh or even glass panels inserted. Along side this screen was also a fire fender. This was a surround that was usually made of some type of metal. While it might also catch a spark or ember, it's main purpose was to keep ladies long and full skirts out of the fire. Especially in the Ante- Bellum years when the big under hoops were worn. Can you not just see a lady getting close to the fire to get warm and her skirt jets in and catches ablaze? Fire fender became big and elaborate in the Edwardian years and often had padded seats so people could set and warm themselves.

Tri-Pod  Foot of the Fire Pole Screen 

   The early fire screens featured either a  flat panel design,  standing on attached legs,or a shield-shape design supported on a tripod legged pole. This is where the term,"firepole", comes into the picture.Both these types of fire screens are still in demand due to their vintage or antique value. They are very saught after by interior decorators as well. These pieces of furniture are available in tradional, oriental and semi- modern styles as per the requirements of the home owner. By the 19th century, many styles of fireplace screens were available. Construction materials included wood,leather.paper- mache' and wicker. A popular footed design featured a heavily, decorated frame, flanking a stretcher that supported a screen panel of painted wood, embroidered tapestry or stained glass. The glass fire screens are transparent and enabled the rooms occupants to view the fire clearly.

   When spring came, the fire would no longer be lit and yet the decorative fire screen still had a role to play-it was placed close up against the chimney breast to cover the gaping hole and hide the blackened grate. The other fire screen or fire guard and the fender were often banishes when the fire was no longer needed.
   In the 18th century, screens tended to be fairly light and often had small oval or round shields to protect one from the heat. The panels could be raised up and down and turned from side to side, all for the purpose of directing the heat from the fire place. The fire screens designed with two legs  and a larger center panel that moved became known as the cheval screen. It the Edwardian period fire screens became bigger and more elaborate. All kinds of moving parts. Sides that  pulled  in and out, tops that raised up, tables that dropped down. They were almost considered a piece of furniture.Ladies soon took on the position as fire screen decorators. Covering the panels with needlepoint and hand painted designs. Martha Washington was said to have stitched one that is still in the White House today.

   I hope you enjoy my fire screens that I am sharing with you in todays post. I have two examples of the fire pole and one of the cheval. The one pole is made with a wood pole and a paper- mache' screen. It is English and has a hand painted early view of Windsor Castle  guard house. The other pole example, is again English and is a more grand scale. It is made of Rose wood (Rosewood is from the Rosewood tree and the tree grows hollow, so the wood is quite rare)and has a wonderful needlepoint panel of a Victorian lady with her dog and cat. It is one of the finest examples I have come across in all the years I have been doing antiques. The needle point is Divine. The final screen I have is a cheval screen, again English,made of rose wood with another needlepoint panel.. Far more   early  than the former, it is of the Regency period(1700's) and has a center panel that rises up to block the heat for a standing person.
  Please drop by for a tour any time, I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss. I also am including a few snap shots of the Hosta in my tree surround shade garden, they are just getting beautiful and are the birth of spring. Have a wonderful day and Thanks for dropping By. Richard