Antique Cast Iron Bed Frame: Identification and Value Guide

Everyone loves reliving the past. At least the past we have heard of but not been able to live through. There is an elegance to the 19th century, among which are beautifully designed iron bed frames made by artisans.

During this period, people took great pride in craftsmanship and ensured they created artistic objects that may never fade off no matter what. These bed frames had a stunning aesthetic and quality build. They were mostly made from cast iron and have withstood the test of time over the centuries.

Considering their significance in beautifying rooms and enabling comfortability, are you planning to add an antique cast iron bed frame to your room decor? Do you understand how to identify the metal used? How to determine the dates for the antique frames you are planning on buying?

Do you know the most popular antique frames you can buy? Where to get them? And their actual market price?

This article will answer all your questions, from the history of antique cast iron bed frames to their types and prices. We will walk you through how to make the best decision on choosing the best iron bed frame.

The History of Antique Cast Iron Bed Frame

Iron bed frames were created to substitute wooden bed frames, which were notorious for getting infested with bed bugs, dust and vermin.

They were invented around the 1800s in Italy to ensure a more sanitary, beautiful and comfortable sleeping space for the people, particularly the elites.

Iron was used as the frame because they are unbreakable, durable and can be cast into a great design. The use of iron bed frames started gaining popularity and extended to England and America in the 1820s and 1850s, respectively.

From the Victorian cast iron production to the time of World War I, hand-made metal bed frames were made.

After the world war, different production techniques were used instead of the renowned hand-made designs. With this development, there was mass production, which saved time but lessened the production quality compared to the hand-made type.

Common Types of Antique Cast Iron Bed Frame

Brass Bed Frames

Vintage Brass Full Size Bed Frame
Vintage Brass Full Size Bed Frame (Source: Ebay $130)

The brass bed frame was either made entirely out of raw brass metals or made using another type of metal frame but with brass coating around it.

There are several benefits to using brass for a bed frame. For one, the metal can reflect light and beautify a room, which adds aesthetic value.

However, if you want your bed frame to keep shining, you need to regularly polish it so it doesn’t quickly wear out. Furthermore, most sellers do not maintain their brass bed frames, so when you buy them, they may be in poor condition and difficult to restore.

Iron Bed Frames

Antique case iron full size bed headboard footboard frame and springs COMPLETE
Antique case iron full size bed headboard footboard frame and springs COMPLETE (Source: Ebay $645.00)

Cast iron was one of the first materials used to create metal bed frames. It was quite affordable and easier maintain than brass metal.

The Art Deco and Victorian styles were the major iron metal frames made back then. However, iron bed frames were crafted with various designs, which meant buyers had multiple options when opting for an antique bed frame.

However, the main issue with iron bed frames is rust. It may be challenging to find an unrusty iron bed frame. But, if you maintain it properly and frequently, you can prevent rust from ruining your frame.

Composite Metal Bed Frames

Brass and Iron Antique Bed in Cream, MK260
Brass and Iron Antique Bed in Cream, MK260 Source: 1stdibs

These are metal frames that are made of two or more metallic materials. They are called composite metals. Brass and iron were usually mixed to create a synthetic metal.

The reason for this was to get the best properties contained in both materials. Some benefits of this combination included reduced frame weight, affordability, and increased beauty. Composite structures have brass at the side rails, footboard or headboard.

Painted Metal Bed Frames

Antique Heavy Cast Iron White Enamel Paint Full Size Bed Marble Brass Accents
Antique Heavy Cast Iron White Enamel Paint Full Size Bed Marble Brass Accents Source: Ebay $850.00

This is another type of bed frame. Manufacturers would paint a metal bed frame to make its design more beautiful.

People enjoyed adding customized colors like floral patterns to their bed frames to differentiate them from the widely produced ones. They also did it to brighten their rooms.

However, this could pose major issues, especially regarding the paint. This is because the paint wears off quicker than the metal, which means the paint quickly starts to chip away. Therefore, you would have to paint the frame periodically to keep it beautiful. Regardless, it will look brand new as soon as you paint it.

Identifying Antique Cast Iron Bed frames

Dating an antique iron bed can be tricky. A thorough understanding of the antique market may be required to identify the right age for the iron bed frame.

However, if you pay attention to these tips, you will be able to understand the correct date for the antique. More importantly, you will be able to identify the difference between fake and real bed frame antiques.

Check the Metal used in Making the Frames

Before World War I, Victorians mainly used hand-crafted cast iron for their home products. This included iron bed frames.

Afterward, there was mass production of aluminum bed frames. If the bed frame is aluminum and not iron, then there is a high probability it is a reproduction and not a hand-made frame.

Trace the Brand Tags or Engraving

The engraved mark may be difficult to see or read, so keep a sharp eye on the frame when searching.

Take a look at obstructive spots like rails side or back of the headboard. The engraving or marking may contain the manufacturer’s name or set of numbers that can help you track the frame origin, the maker, and the age of the bed frame.

Be mindful of the Structure of the Frame

For some reason, manufacturers may not engrave the frame. However, sometimes, it could have worn off so much that it is difficult to read. The build of an iron bed frame can be a quick solution to knowing whether or not it is an antique.

Earlier antique bed frames were bound with ropes at the headboard and footboard. Later, cast brass and bolts were replaced with the use of ropes.

Within this period, the use of horseshoe-shaped Tenon and Mortise, a specific kind of joint, emerged.

In recent times, the headboard and footboard are no longer a part of the iron frame. If the frame you are trying to access does not have the head and footboard, it means they are modern production and not the antiques you are looking for.

Compare the Structure with Similar Antiques

If you can identify the age of an antique iron bed frame with a similar structure and style, you may find the appropriate age for the antique frame you desire to buy.

Antique frames have three main styles in common. The Victorian styles emerged in the 1800s, the Art nouveau style that was notorious in the 19th century, and the Art Deco Style came around the 1920s.

Whether you inherit an iron metal frame or are willing to buy it, you must ensure that it is authentic antique and not modern. The first sign of identifying an antique iron is aging. The metal used during the 18th and 19th centuries tended to rust and be corrosive.

Another way to tell the difference between antique and modern iron bed frames is that modern frames do not have the footboard and headboard fused with the frame anymore.

It would help if you determined the metal that’s used. Antique bed frames were mainly made from brass or cast iron, while modern ones are made from aluminum, which is cheaper and lighter.

Here is a YouTube link explaining the easiest way to identify an antique metal frame.

How to Determine Antique Cast Iron Bed Frame Values

Whether you are buying or selling an antique iron bed frame, you will need to determine the actual value. The market value of an iron bed frame can range from $300 to $2,000.

Several factors determine the actual price. Ensure your desired antique frame passes this valuable test before you buy. Do thorough market research before deciding the right price for a framed antique.

Factors Affecting Value of Antique Cast Iron Bed Frames

Here are the most important factors to consider before buying an antique cast iron bed frame.

Size

Antique beds have different sizes, just as we have in modern beds. One of its popular sizes is the three-quarter size, and they are usually made between 48 inches in width and 75 inches in length.

Most of these frame sizes are no longer made in modern times, which makes it hard to find a mattress set that fits into an antique frame.

It is best advised you purchase the antique bed frame in the standard sizes. Also, an antique frame with a standard size will be more valuable than the less standard 3/4 sizes.

Design and Style

Antique bed frames were made by crafters in several different designs and styles, but many of these designs fail to blend well with the features of modern bed frames. It would be best if you looked for a structure with a vintage aesthetic and contemporary characteristics.

However, there are some Victorian frames that have some element of modern decor. These types of frames usually have more value than other designs. Iron bed frames with obsolete designs are valued low since many people do not want to use them.

Condition

Condition plays a significant role in the value of your antique items. The metal used in making a frame is susceptible to rust and corrosion. When aiming to buy one, ensure it is not rusted or severely eroded.

However, if experts have restored the antique frame, make sure the job is nicely done and doesn’t wear out after a few months. Excess repair may devalue the antique frame and makes it lose its antiquity.

Castings

Castings are decorative components that are usually produced by heating molten metals and then pouring them into a form that secures the frame posts. Spindles are plain rails or decorative turnings.

If you observe the castings or spindles of an antique bed and realize they’re noticeably loose, this will depreciate the bed’s value and can be hard to repair.

Pitting Metal

Pitting is corrosion in metals that form small holes after prolonged use. If you notice pitting on a bed frame, it means age is affecting it. A pitting metal frame will sell for less value.

Lead paint

In the 1800s, lead paints were commonly used on furniture, especially iron beds. However, in the 1970s, the use of lead pain declined.

Studies show that lead paint can cause multiple health hazards like nervous system damage, kidney problems, irritability, and reproductive issues. Due to this, antiques with lead paint can be less valued.

Missing Parts

Some parts of an antique bed frame are nearly impossible to replace. Parts like these include slats, bolts, finials and bolts, and it is essential you check out these fittings before getting an antique frame.

Finally, if you are still unsure of your antique iron bed frame value, you can engage the services of professionals to help make a good appraisal of the antique. You can check out companies like The American Society of Appraisers.

How Much is your Antique Iron Bed Frame Worth?

To know how much a frame is worth, consider those above factors. Check out the manufacturer’s mark, the age of the antique, the condition, and most importantly, if it fits your type of bed.

Afterward, you can look up similar beds sold recently on the various antique market or consult an expert who can give the best professional advice. Here are a few examples of values for antiques you can check out.

  • A beautiful black frame is sold on eBay for $239.9 without damage.
  • A beautiful brass bed with floral swags sold on eBay for about $475. There was some damage to the floral design and a few small dents.
  • A wrought iron Art Nouveau style bed sold for almost $1000. The bed was in good condition.
  • A painted cast iron bed with some chipping paint and rust sold for around $100.
  • A Victorian Brass & Iron Double Bedstead sold for around $990.

All these major sites can be used to check the current price of that antique frame you are willing to sell or buy.

Popular Antiques Cast Iron Bed frame to Buy

Italian Wrought Iron bed

Pair of 19th Century Italian Wrought Iron  Tole Beds
Pair of 19th Century Italian Wrought Iron Tole Beds Source: 1stdibs

The beautiful Italian wrought iron/tole bed frame with hand-painted imitation wood effect, magnificent detailed floral design, and mother of pearls accents. It was made in Italy in the 19th century, and the frame cost around $4,600.

Art Nouveau 19th Century Italian Hand-Painted Iron Double Bed

Art Nouveau 19th Century Italian Hand Painted Iron Double Bed
Art Nouveau 19th Century Italian Hand Painted Iron Double Bed Source: 1stdibs

The bed frame was made of iron with hand-forged cast iron subjects. The panels have a delicate hand-painted floral decoration and precious mother of pearl inlays that give light. The iron bed frame cost $2,208.89.

Where to Buy and Sell Antique Cast Iron Bed Frame

If you are an admirer of antique iron bed frames and are willing to use one to beautify your bedroom, you may be thinking of the best place to buy it. Or, if you inherited an antique iron bed frame, you may be curious to know the best marketplace to sell it. Antiques have their specific place of sale.

Below we will reveal tested and trusted places to find and sell authentic antique bed frames.

eBay: It is an amazing place known for selling antique materials. It is an auction site that makes searches easy for intending users. The site is easy to navigate, you can easily filter searches, and look for the specific bed frame you want. Some of these filters include the antique materials, the date, price range, and design.

Etsy: Etsy is another fantastic platform to get antique collectibles, especially iron bed frames. There are various age categories of antique frames you can choose from in the marketplace.

Loveantiques.com: Sellers here primarily deal with antiques, and the site also has a section for the exchange of antique materials. It has many collectible antique bed frames that best suit your bedroom and have modern aesthetic value. Though the market is primarily for Europeans, it, however, has its prices in USD, GBP, and EUR and has a hitch-free payment gateway.

Craigslist: Craigslist is an online marketplace where vendors can offer different services and items. It is one of the top markets for selling antique materials, with an iron bed frame inclusive. The site is easily navigable, and there are more than needed collections of antique frames worth your money.

Independent Antique Sellers: There are many companies located all over the world that sell and buy antiques, antique bed frames included.

Many of these independent sellers have superior information that can make you buy the best antique, debunk the myth surrounding items, offer the best advice, value your trunk, and even restore the wearing of antique frames. They also sell relevant tools you can use in restoring your antique frame.

Go online and conduct independent research about them. However, ensure the person you are conversing with is a person that is knowledgeable on antiques or belongs to any authorized antique body so you won’t be scammed of your hard-earned money.

FAQS

How can you tell how old an antique iron bed is?

While it can be tricky to identify the exact date an antique iron bed is made, there are some clues that can help you figure out the correct age of the iron bed frame. For one, you can use the engraved trademark stamp that identifies the manufacturer.

If the manufacturer is no longer in the production business, you can conduct a search about the time they stopped producing. After that, you can narrow the date of the frame to the time before the manufacturer closed.

You can also use antique iron frames similar to the one you have to predict the age of your frame.

What are old metal bed frames made of?

Metal frames are made of different metallic materials like brass, iron, aluminum, and steel.

Iron is the most widely used metal due to its weight and durability and is one of the earliest metals used.

Brass is another metallic form bed frames were cast into in the olden days. However, it is not as heavy as iron. It comprises copper and zinc and has a bright gold-like appearance.

Aluminum was introduced in the 19th century. It is an inexpensive metal bed frame and highly resistant to corrosion.

Do antique beds have lead on them?

Antique bed frames made before 1977 were likely to have lead paint on them. Lead painted finishes have been used since the 1800s on furniture, especially iron beds. The paint increased durability, made the frames look appealing, and resisted any moisture that could cause corrosion.

However, in 1977, the USA government’s consumer protection banned the use of lead paint due to the health hazard it caused. In recent times, water-based paints have been used to paint iron frames and even to restore the antique frame.

What are antique iron bed frames worth?

The value of any antique is dependent on some crucial factors. You have to consider the conditions, design, fitting size, and many others before determining the worth of an antique bed frame.

Another factor to consider is the scarcity of the bedframe. In general, an excellent antique iron bed can cost between $200 to $4,000.

 Conclusion

Antique bed frames are fascinating items that will continue to be a piece of history. Also, they are lovely additions to our homes. Despite their age, they are able to blend in with modern designs while still maintaining that vintage look.

Furthermore, these frames were crafted with robust metals such as iron, which is why they were able to withstand the test of time.

However, identifying a real antique bed frame and its actual market value can be tricky. It is essential to know the authenticity and price of these bed frames so you do not overpay or underpay for one. Also, so you do not get paid less than you deserve when selling.

Luckily, this article can help you through all that. If you properly use it, the mystery will be less difficult to unravel. So, take your time and enjoy not only the price of these objects but their origins and history as well.

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