For centuries families have enjoyed the relaxing ambiance and warmth that a fireplace creates in the home. During the Victorian era, the fireplace was the main home heating source but it was also seen as a focal point of the room, a gathering place for family and visitors. The Industrial Revolution brought with it a new middle class looking to acquire possessions, including art, for their homes, something that had previously been accessible only to the privileged few. Fireplaces were no exception. The mantel became a trendy place to display art and keepsakes and the fireplace was a fixture that made its own artistic statement. Its grandiose appearance was highlighted with new materials such as marble, copper and brass, introducing a sense of luxury and wealth.
When browsing eBay for brass fire surrounds , you will find an abundance of antique fireplaces and accessories. Many of the fireplaces will be original antiques, some predating the Victorian era, while others will be replicas of the types of fireplaces and fixtures that were prominent at the turn of the last century. This buying guide is a reference to assist you in making better, well-informed decisions when it comes to purchasing this, sometimes costly, fixture. The guide will outline the history of fireplaces, both their function within the home as well as the historical stylistic changes which occurred to its overall appearance. It will outline the key accessories that were often paired with brass fireplace surrounds, and it will give you helpful pointers on how to maintain the glowing appearance of brass.
The popularity of fireplace surrounds goes back thousands of years. Surrounds can be traced back to medieval times, when they were primarily built of stone. Although marble is a common component in the construction of the fire surround, in the United Kingdom it has only been used for the past 400 years because the resource had to be imported from abroad. The most common material used in the construction of the original fire surround was wood. Its malleable shape made it easy for craftsmen to carve and its cheap cost made it preferable to such expensive materials as slate, marble or stone. Both the Victorian and the Edwardian eras saw an increase in the use of wood fire surrounds, and the most popular promoter of the wooden fire surround was the Arts and Crafts movement from 1880 to 1910. Arts and Crafts design focused on simple linear symmetry and natural, locally resourced materials. The wooden fire surround was popular with many artists and architects of the period.
Wooden fireplace mantels reached their peak of production in the 17th century. In the 18th century, a transition in the style of craftsmanship occurred, and Italian and French influences began to be seen in fire surround design. 19th century designers adopted the Victorian style for mantels, incorporating decorative surround panels around the fireplace, made of metals such as brass and copper.
Components of a fireplace
The terminology used to identify key components of a fireplace (whether antique or not) can be tricky. Understanding what each piece is and where it sits within the fireplace structure will make it easier for a buyer to find what they need on eBay. It should be noted that not all fireplaces have all of the mentioned components. Different styles and different eras incorporated or eliminated some of the features listed:
Fire Surround or Mantel: A decorative structure that is often made of wood, stone or precast material and positioned around the firebox. The top horizontal cap is called a mantelpiece.
Over Mantel: The decorative panel that sometimes sits above the fireplace mantel.
Hood or Canopy: The hood or canopy is the decorative element that sits directly above the fire box.
Tile Surround: The tile surround is made of heat-resistant decorative tile and surrounds the firebox.
Grate: Made from cast-iron or a steel frame, the grate holds burning fuel, either wood or gas logs.
Ash Pan: The ash pan is a metal tray designed to catch the ash. It sits at the base of the fireplace box.
Fireback: A fireback is a thick iron plate that is placed at the back of the hearth protecting the wall while reflecting heat into the room.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Brass Fire Surround
The fireplace is a very important fixture in the home, serving two purposes: it is a practical means for heating the home and it is a key decorative feature offering a feeling of warmth and ambience. Here are some factors a buyer should consider before purchasing a brass fire surround on eBay.
Design: Shopping on eBay reveals a great variety of brass fire surrounds. Selecting a design, whether elaborate or simple, that complements the current design of the room, is an important first step. If the buyer is unsure of what design would work best in their designated space, an interior designer will be of great help, or a fireplace expert might assist in choosing the right brass fire surround.
Dimensions and scale: Size is an important factor in choosing the right brass fire surround. Consideration must be given to the dimensions of the room and the scale of the surround. The size of the existing fire box will enter the equation as well. It may be possible to alter the space to accommodate the replacement fire surround.
Price: When purchasing any type of fireplace accessory, it's imperative that the buyer has a price point in mind. Once the buyer has a budget, it will make selecting the correct brass surround much easier.
Restoration: If the buyer is purchasing an original brass fire surround from the Victorian era, restoration may be required. Some of the authentic antique fireplaces available for sale may show some wear and tear. Both time and money will be needed to return the fire surround to a more desirable state. Seek out the assistance of experts to perform the necessary restorations.
How to care for a Brass Fire Surround
There are many types of standard cleaning solutions available to help maintain the shine and glamour of a brass fire surround. Hotspot, a popular U.K. cleaning manufacturer, specializes in a wide variety of cleaning products that can be used to clean and polish a brass fire surround. They also offer many other types of fireplace accessories.
There are also all-natural methods for cleaning and polishing a brass fire surround. Here are some suggestions:
1. Mix together one cup of lemon juice and five tablespoons of salt to create a thin paste.
2. Using a clean soft cloth, gently rub the paste onto the brass fire surround using a circular motion. If the brass is very soiled, leave the mixture on for a minimum of five minutes before removing.
3. Dip a clean cloth into warm water and remove the mixture from the brass. Restore the shine by buffing in a circular motion.
Other household tricks:
Ketchup is an excellent household solution for cleaning non-lacquered brass. Pour ketchup onto a clean cloth and rub onto the surface in a circular motion and simply wipe away with a damp cloth.
A good mild solution that cleans, disinfects and helps to deodorize, vinegar is a cheap cleaner that will maintain the glistening shine of brass. Mix one part warm water and one part distilled white vinegar into a standard spray bottle. Spray the cleaning solution onto the brass surround and polish with a damp, clean cloth.
There are many different add-ons and accessories that can complement a brass fire surround, most of which can be found on eBay. Below is a brief list of some of these accessories.
* Brass fender
* Brass antique tool set or stand
* Brass antique andirons
* Brass fire irons
* Brass fire screens
* Matches and brass match holder
* Brass coal bucket
* Cast iron curved ash catcher
* Decorative fire screen to cover the fire opening in warmer months
Finding Brass Fire Surrounds on eBay
Once you determine the type or style of brass fire surround you would like to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on 'Architectural Antiques,' then 'Fireplaces' and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.
Searching for Brass Fire Surrounds on eBay
Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for brass fire surrounds on eBay. For example, to find a brass fender, type 'antique brass fender' into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customize the results. Also visit eBay's Search Tips page for more advice on searching for brass items with select keywords. If you can't find the exact brass item or brass fire surround you want, try shopping eBay Stores.
Once you understand the key design components that make up a fireplace's construction and the historical background behind brass fire surrounds, you can make wise and educated decisions regarding your purchase. Once you have collected this information, you can buy any brass fire surround and complementing accessories safely and securely on eBay.