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“Wage war against wooden beds and you wage it against one of the largest disease-breeders of the present day. No dust nor germs nor vermin can find lodgement in an iron bed.”

So was the cry heard from the iron bed manufacturers in the late 1800’s. Besides celebrating their product’s elegant, sensual designs, warm colours and amazing craftsmanship, early adverts for iron beds attacked the wooden competition as being unsanitary and likely to make you sick.

While there was a modicum of truth that certain insects might be more attracted to sleeping with you in a wood bed, the contest was really about beauty not bugs. Should centuries-old advertisement or sanitation problems play a part in the buy of your antique iron bed? Probably not. But there are a some significant points you do need to consider.

Iron beds are produced as a stylized arrangement of tubes and rods all held together by highly crafted pieces of cast iron called castings. The abundance and the clarity of design inherent in these castings are the qualities that give the antique iron bed its value, character and weight. There are three difficult problems associated with antique iron frames: missing or badly-fitting side rails, broken hitches (the point at which the rails connects to the bed) and extreme rust Rails are not exchangeable. Original or properly fitting rails will provide a snug, tight feel with little movement of the headboard. Badly fitted rails will present a severe wobble in the head and footboard that only gets worse when you get into the bed. Any weld marks appearance on the cast iron hitches indicates that, at some point, the hitch failed and cracked. It also tells you that an amateur welder attempted to repair the problem. Cast iron, still, is very hard to weld properly, specially when it is in a essential, stress-point location designed to keep you from falling to the floor. As a rule, A I B doesn’t purchase frames with broken or repaired hitches Rust is an interesting color, but not when it shows up on your nice, expensive off-white bedding. A little hint of it in the cracks and crevices of a bed’s castings is acceptable, but finding a blanket of rust anywhere on the frame is a red flag. Unless eliminated by a professional sandblaster, like the ones employed by A I B, the rust will eventually become a member of the family. When choosing an iron bed for your master bedroom, it’s helpful to do a little exploration of your lifestyle. If you’re a type “A” personality, and simply need to create an attractive place to sleep for a few hours, then a thinner gauge frame that isn’t filled with bold, heavy castings will work perfectly.  If, however, you’re one who loves to read or watch TV in bed, then your headboard needs to be heavier with more density in the interior design for added support. And look for thick tubing and lots of heavy castings if your bed will serve as a hangout for family, friends and/or pets. Antique brass can be a beautiful accent to an antique iron bed – if it’s treated properly. Dents and dings are acceptable facts, especially if the brass is irreplaceable. But the last thing you want when you go to bed at night is the sound of rattles and creaks. Restoration can be difficult. Only the most patient of artisans can bring back the color and luster, without stripping away the beauty that time has given it and restore the solid fit that these soft metal details demand. When shopping for an antique iron bed it’s important not to make your choice based on the existing finish. Most frames have been painted over many times and usually with lead-based paints. Cleaning and sealing an existing finish can be acceptable for adults who are aware of that fact. For children, however, we recommend that we sandblast the old paint off and refinish with safe paint in colors that work with your decor.