MAKER: On 3 September 1802, The Federal Gazette and Baltimore Daily Advertiser published the following excerpt from a Charleston newspaper: “In the month of May last (says a late Charleston paper) John Johnson, jun. esq. began to build an air furnace about four miles from this city, on the Copper river. About the middle of July, he had it so far completed as to be able to put it in blast. Since that period he has daily produced castings, which, in the opinion of good judges, are equal in neatness and lightness to any that have been brought to this city from any country… He has also made several essays at cabooses, chimney-backs, weights, jambs for chimnies, and several other articles, in all of which he has succeeded…”
DESCRIPTION: Cast-Iron fireback with arched top, raised design of leaf and vine along top edge, with eagle beneath flanked by columns, and beneath the eagle the letters: CHARLESTON.
DESIGN: Like other decorative arts, ironwork responded to the changes in fashion which punctuate the 18th century. During the first quarter, iron decoration was characterized by German medieval scripture scenes and floral motifs. Mid-century, rococo patterns, also found on Philadelphia Chippendale furniture, became popular, and after the Revolution, neoclassical and patriotic motifs, suxh as those seen here, became popular.