High Four Poster style are identified by their height with approx. 8ft posts on all corners, at the top were single or double iron lace rails, (full tester) with some also having extra support struts to support a full canopy. Most common is the straight rail design, whilst others will sweep upwards giving a more tent like appearance with brass knobs securing the bed frame together. Generally original designs (1860’s to 1900’s) also having matching decorative head and foot ends. Their size can range from cots to king size beds.
Were elegant in their design and very popular today in modern houses where four poster and tester beds do not fit modern bedrooms. They can vary from cast iron designs to brass, porcelain and mother of pearl. Generally original designs (1860’s to 1900’s) also having matching decorative head and foot ends. Generally Head end is 6ft approx. and Foot end is 4ft approx. Their size can range from cots to king size beds.
Tester style beds were more commonly used, with 2 tall back posts 8ft approx., where brackets (known as tester brackets) are located to hold a round or square tester for a closed canopy or with “Italian” or “French” swing arms for a more open appearance. Lacework, curtaining and mosquito nets are fitted to these. The head and foot end designs can vary from matching irons ends from the 1860’s to Brass, Porcelain and Mother of Pearl decorative designs, there are dozens of designs to explore.
These beds are from the 1860’s to 1880’s, they may be four poster or tester styles and are predominantly made of cast iron, with matching head and foot ends in the majority of the original mail order catalogues, though this may not always be the case. Earlier iron beds are easily identified by the cast iron hoop lugs, which will be evenly placed along the length of the bed rails.
Original mail order catalogues, allowed a personal choice between having a Nickel (silver) finish, which required less maintenance and polishing, all of these beds were manufactured with brass fittings and then nickel plated. Or, they could choose to have brass beds, which did require regular polishing to keep their lustre. They began to appear from the 1880’s onwards, initially with a plain rod and as time passed, the designs became more intricate, using barley twist brass, brass medallions, brass spindles and brass circles, porcelain and mother of pearl to complement their design. All our brass beds are now lacquered, so minimal maintenance required.
Brass Beds were adorned by hand painted porcelains and porcelain centres, most commonly only used in the design of foot end of the bed, in other designs, both head and foot end matched, becoming known as low four poster. Please explore our gallery to see their vast range.
Handcut and polished, Mother of Pearl became the feature of centre medallions and square spindles. Timeless Antiques is able to replace and restore Mother of Pearl centres, where century old glue has long gone, this is a lost art resulting in many Mother of Pearl beds still in homes, with the owners unaware that their main bed feature is actually missing.
These often give the beds their individual look. Original porcelains were hand made, are heavy in weight and individually numbered with their serial or batch number. Through the centre of the porcelain there is a small hole, where they are threaded on a support rod, before being attached to the bed, usually by brass pieces known as “porcelain holders”. Original porcelains were hand painted in a range of colours and patterns.
Glass Medallions ranged from glass etched star patterning, Irish clover and many other designs, some had colour backing or mother of pearl chips to give the design more depth.
Timeless Antiques has over 400 original porcelains, as well we numerous glass and porcelain medallion centres at hand for our restorations and bed size extensions.