Hats Off To Abraham Darby
Cast Iron Hallstand In Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers Sale
If this was the hallstand, imagine the grandeur of the Victorian mansion hall where it once stood.
Now the six-foot cast iron creation towers over lesser furniture in the saleroom of Surrey’s premier fine art and antiques auctioneers Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers, awaiting sale day on Wednesday March 16. It is expected to sell for up to £600.
It was made probably at the famous Coalbrookdale iron foundry on the banks of the River Severn near Telford. However, such was the popularity of cast iron furniture – both in the garden or conservatory and in the home – that several other English companies jumped on the bandwagon.
The Victorians loved scrolled legs, lattice arms, lyre-shaped seat backs, and floral embellishments but in wood, such furniture could only be craftsmen-made and consequently the preserve of the rich.
The development of the casting process of pig iron meant furniture could be mass-produced from moulds incorporating the most elaborate ornamentation at no extra cost. Today, such pieces are highly desirable.
The process of casting iron in dry sand moulds was pioneered by the Darby family of iron smelters in the late 18th century. In 1778, Abraham Darby III built the world’s first cast iron bridge at Coalbrookdale, now a famous landmark in the nearby appropriately named Shropshire village of Ironbridge. It proved to be at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 gave a great boost to cast iron furniture – the Hyde Park gates to the Crystal Palace were made at Coalbrookdale – and eventually the name became synonymous with all cast iron products from pub tables to grand municipal fountains.
Garden benches are particularly popular among today’s collectors, one good example selling for £1,300 in a recent Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers sale. The hallstand is expected to attract keen interest from buyers, but they need to be sure they have enough space to give it a home.
It will be offered in Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers’ Spring sale of antiques and fine art. Further entries are invited ahead of the closing date, on March 2.
Picture shows auctioneer Chris Ewbank with the cast iron hallstand.