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Andirons

Place Made:
Great Britain
Date Made:
1790-1810
Medium:
brass
Dimensions:
HOA 24 1/2; LOA 17 13/16; WOA 8 (approx for each)
Accession Number:
3103
Description:
DESCRIPTION: Brass andirons with urn shaped finial. The andirons resemble an obelisk–tall four-sided narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top. The base is made up of a three-footed arch. The brass has engraved designs all over with starburst and foliage. The decorative brass component is flanked by a two-footed cast-iron leg for holding.
History:
HISTORY: These Neoclassic brass andirons were undoubtedly cast at the same foundry as an elaborate set that descended in the Middleton or Kinlock families of Charleston. Both pairs have elongated scrolls between the legs, separate shafts, plinths, and finials, and wrought iron billet bars without log rests. This particular pair descended in the Ford family of Georgetown, SC. The Ford’s plantation burned in 1860 and the andirons were among the items saved. The Ford descendant, through which the andirons were acquired, lived at one time, when young, in Whitehall.

Both sets of andirons were originally attributed to Charleston, South Carolina (see “A School of Charleston, South Carolina Brass Andirons,” by Bradford L. Rauschenberg in the May 1979 issue of the MESDA Journal). In his November 1992 MESDA Journal article, “Reconsidering Charleston Brass Andirons, Types II and III: An Essay on the use of Theory Replacement in Material Culture,” Rauschenberg replaces his original hypothesis with the theory that this style of andiron was actually made in England, possibly for the Charleston market. Rauschenberg writes:
“The James Douglas Account Book in the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan is at the heart of my reattribution of these objects.” (page 46)
The account book includes an entry describing cargo bound for Charleston from a number of London merchants including Taylor and Bailey. The Taylor and Bailey shipment included:
“2 [pair] of neat Square Eng[rav]d brass pillar Do [Fire dogs], with arch’d feet & brass vase h[ea]ds @ 18/[] 1:16[,] 2 pr Do Do [@] 25 /[]2:10[,] 1 pr of large Strong Do[]1:11[,] 2 pr of Do wth. very very neat Claw feet [@] 35/[L]3:10…1 pair of very neat large new make d[ou]ble Fire dogs with neat Engd. Princes metal oblisk pillars Claw feet vase heads wth. a very neat openwork Eliptic & Scroul [sic] border Engd. [L] 3:13:6[,] 1 Pair of very Strong Single Do fluted pillars & Strong Claw feet with bright horses [L] 2:8 [,] 2 pair of Single brass Mounted fire dogs, with Square oblisk Pillars Engd. arch feet & vase heads [L0]:17…1 Neat New Pattern openwork brass Serpentine fender with a Moulding & bottom plate….” (Rauschenberg 47).

Credit Line:
St. Joe Lead Co. Purchase Fund