Sunday, December 20, 2009

Collect Old Beds

Canopy, Jenny Lind, cast iron and four-poster beds all conjure images of beds through history. Romans invented the first beds. Since then, bed frames have been elaborate and simple, constructed from wood and metal, and the mattresses filled with leaves, down, grass and straw. Beds have been handmade by individuals, designed and built for royalty and mass-produced in factories. Their age, construction, design or manufacturer might inspire a collector of old beds. Collecting old, antique beds connects collectors to the history of furniture, interior design and comfort.


1. Decide what kind of old, antique or vintage beds to collect. Collecting creates categories. Antique bed collecting categories might be beds of cast iron, beds from Vermont, oak beds or mid-19th century beds. An alternative would be to collect beds made by only one company. For example, the Charles P. Limbert Company out of Holland, Mich. created Arts and Crafts furniture, including beds, from 1906 to 1922.

2. Educate yourself about the types of beds you intend to collect. Read about the history of furniture to learn about the styles and decorations popular during different time periods. Fifteenth-century builders made the first four-poster beds. In the early 1800s, cast iron beds were first made. Jenny Lind beds, with turned knob decoration, became popular in the late 19th century.

3. Locate venues for purchasing your antique beds. Old, antique and vintage beds can be found at auctions, estate sales, antique stores and online. Beds found at auctions may be less expensive than those found in an antique store; however, they may require more work to clean and polish them. It is quite common to purchase antiques online but the size of the beds may involve high shipping costs.

4. Evaluate the condition of all beds before you purchase them. Look at the finish on the wood. Is it original or has it been refinished? Examine each piece of wood to see if they all match or are a combination of two or more beds put together to create one bed. Check the legs and feet to look for damage and repairs. Antiques are supposed to show signs of wear; however, you want to be fully knowledgeable of the degree of wear before you purchase the piece.

5. Create a system to maintain information about your old, antique beds. Whether you intend to sell or display your antique bed collection, you want to keep all of the documentation for each bed. Receipts, letters and other information should be stored in a safe place.

6. Preserve your antique bed collection. Clean and wax your beds to maintain their value and beauty. Make a cleanser of mild liquid soap combined with water and wipe the beds with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. You may also use a vacuum cleaner, set on low, with the brush attachment. For wooden beds, use a hard paste wax once or twice a year to protect the finish.

Tags: your antique, antique beds, cast iron, antique collection, antique vintage