Your Guide to Buying an Edwardian Fireplace

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Your Guide to Buying an Edwardian Fireplace

An Edwardian fireplace comes from an interesting period of history, when industrialization and craftsmanship merged for a moment and created affordable yet well-made pieces for the home. Encompassing a variety of popular styles from neo-Classical revivals to contemporary Art Nouveau, Edwardian fireplaces offer enough variety to suit anyone's tastes. As a reaction to the heavier, more ornate styles of the Victorian period, Edwardian fireplaces tend to be a little simpler, lighter and easier to match with a modern home's decor. Hti guide will help you in your purchasing choice when you are ready to bring the cozy comfort and sophisticated charm of an Edwardian fireplace into your home.

History of Edwardian Fireplaces

Fire has played an important role in the survival and comfort of humanity from its very beginning. Early fireplaces were placed in the middle of a room, with a hole cut in the roof to let the smoke escape. With the invention of the chimneypiece in the middle Ages, fireplaces started to be installed into walls where they were more easily controlled. Before electric heating, fireplaces would be placed in the kitchen, bedroom, living room and other roomsin the house requiring heat. Over time, fireplaces became the focal point of rooms, acting as gathering places for family and visitors. As such, fireplaces took on an increasingly decorative character, peaking in the French Rococo and Victorian eras. The largest fireplace mantels could extend across the wall of a room, showcasing the ornate carvings and figures put into the facade of the fireplace.

The Edwardian period, covering the reign of Edward VII from 1901 to 1910, brought about a reaction to the elaborate aesthetic of the preceding Victorian era. Whereas the Victorian period focused on heavily ornate patterns and an eclectic mix of historical styles, the Edwardian era embraced lighter patterns, brighter colours and simpler designs. At the same time, the Edwardian period saw astronginterest in reviving historical styles, like neo-Classicism. The period also embraced the Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Arts and Crafts styles. All of these decorative styles can be found in antique Edwardian fireplaces. Since this was one of the last periods of hand-made, skilled craftsmanship before industrialisation became widespread, fireplaces made in Edwardian times hold an interesting place in the history of fireplaces.

Discover Edwardian Fireplaces

Despite spanning just a short period of history, antique Edwardian fireplaces offer a lot of variety in style. Popular contemporary styles like Art Deco and Art Nouveau were flourishing, as well as revivals of older decorative arts like the neo-Classical and Regency periods. Purchasing an Edwardian fireplace is a bit like obtaining a piece of art history. Although hand-craftsmanship was still used, Edwardian fireplaces of latter period vintage often utilized industrialised production techniques, making them more affordable and easier to find. An Edwardian fireplace is a great combination of style and function with a more subdued aesthetic than Victorian or Rococo fireplaces. There are more likely to be better fits with modern-styled homes. Tiled panels were popular in this period and add an exciting splash of colour to an Edwardian fireplace. Edwardian fireplaces come in an assortment of sizes and styles to suit virtually any room's décor.

Components of an Edwardian Fireplace

An Edwardian fireplace can include several components. This is a list of some of the most basic components:

Component

Description

Fireplace Insert

A fireplace insert is the part that holds the fire itself. The fireplace insert was almost always made of cast iron or some other strong, fire-resistant material. In the Edwardian period, combination fireplaces were often sold, consisting of the fireplace insert and the decorative surround.

Surround

The surround literally 'surrounds' the fireplace on the sides and top. It's usually made of fine materials like marble, stone, wood (usually oak, walnut, mahogany), or cast iron. Surrounds became increasingly decorative as time went on, and often displayed tiled panels. More elaborate models incorporated mirrors, shelves and drawers.

Mantel

The mantel is the top of the fireplace surround, initially made to keep smoke from entering the room. However, mantelpieces became increasingly ornamental over time, and could extend across the width of a wall. They were made of fine materials like marble, stone, wood and, more rarely, cast iron.

Tiles

Tiles were glazed to withstand intense heat. They were often coloured and patterned.

Hearth

The hearth is a heat-resistant panel on the floor in front of the fireplace. It is usually made of stone or tile.

Styles of Edwardian Fireplace

There are many different styles of Edwardian fireplaces, the differences primarily being variations in size and shape.

Style

Description

Bedroom Fireplace

This is the smallest size of fireplace. The general rule for fireplaces is that they get smaller as the floor levels rise in the home.Bedrooms were typically at the top.

Combination Fireplace

A combination fireplace is an all-in-one fireplace set, including the surround and usually a mantel.

Arched Fireplace

An arched fireplace is actually an arched fireplace insert, which requires a separate surround to complete the fireplace. Together with the surround, the fireplace is usually larger than a combination fireplace, so it works best in larger rooms like the living room or master bedroom.

Tiled Fireplace

A tiled fireplace has a fireplace insert with tiled panels on the side. Since it's a fireplace insert, a separate surround is also required to complete the fireplace. This is usually bigger than a combination fireplace.

HobGrate

A hob grate has flat castings or "hobs" on either side of the fire, used to warm water or cook. The hob grate was frequently tiled in the Edwardian period.

Factors to Consider When Buying an Edwardian Fireplace

Before purchasing an Edwardian fireplace, there are a few factors to consider in order to match, and complement a room's décor.

Ÿ  Style: There are many styles of Edwardian fireplace to choose from, whether it's an Art Deco design that embraces modern lines, or a full blown Rococo revival with serpentine forms and intricate scrollwork. Take the décor of a room into consideration and try to match 'like-with-like' - an ornate fireplace with an ornately styled room, and a more spare room with a simpler-styled fireplace.

Ÿ  Size: It is fairly easy to adjust the size of a fireplace hole to fit the dimensions of a new fireplace, with the help of a professional installer. However, the size of a room should be taken into account when purchasing an Edwardian fireplace, as they vary widely. A small fireplace is designed for bedrooms and other small quarters, while larger fireplaces should be placed in the living room or master bedroom.

Ÿ  Tiles: There is usually room for tiles on Edwardian fireplaces on the side panels and sometimes the top canopy, if there is one. Fireplace tiles are highly decorative and were considered artistic works in their own right during this time. Consider purchasing antique fireplace tiles to add some colour and decorative detail to an Edwardian fireplace.

Typical Features of an Edwardian Fireplace

While Edwardian fireplaces can vary in their style and function, there are some basic unifying features that are found in a typical fireplace from this period

1. Cast iron insert or combination fireplace

Like most antique fireplaces, an Edwardian fireplace usually has a cast iron insert or is acompletely cast iron combination fireplace. Cast iron is poured into a mold to create the desired shape, and is very durable.

2. Decorative elements

An Edwardian fireplace will usually have some decorative elements on the surround,mantel or on the fireplace insert.

3. Tiles

Tiled panels or sets of tiles were a common feature in Edwardian fireplaces. They can add a customizable colour and style to a fireplace and are often highly coveted by collectors.

How to Care for an Edwardian Fireplace

To clean cast iron parts of the fireplace, first remove all accessories from the fireplace. Brush the surface off with a bristled brush, moving from top to bottom. Use an old toothbrush to get in the corners and edges of the fireplace. Do the same to the accessories. Now vacuum up the accumulated soot and dirt with a vacuum brush.

Dip a cloth in hot water and wring out until just slightly damp. Wash the surface of the fireplace and the accessories. Apply iron polish with a cloth, rubbing into the iron surface. Buff with a soft, dry cloth and let dry completely before using the fireplace.

Cleaning and caring for the surround and mantel of an Edwardian fireplace depends on the materials that they're made with. Usually for marble and ceramic, a soft cloth dipped in water mixed with a few drops of dish soap will clean most surfaces. 

Popular Edwardian Fireplace Manufacturers

Here is a brief list of some of the more popular Edwardian fireplace manufacturers.

 Adam Brothers

  • T. Helyear
  • Hiram Tucker
  • Thomas Elsley
  • Dawson Brothers
  • Bridgeford & Co.
  • W.L. Sharp & Son
  • Durham Foundry

Accessories and Add-ons for an Edwardian Fireplace

An Edwardian fireplace is perfectly functional by itself but additional accessories can make cleaning or storage easier, while highly decorative pieces often improve the appearance of the fireplace area as well.

  • Decorative tiles or panels
  • Fireplace screen
  • Stove
  • Hearth
  • Fire dog
  • Companion set including a poker, bellow, tongs, shovel, brush and tool stand
  • Fender

Finding an Edwardian Fireplace on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique Victorian fireplaces you want 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 Chinese Antiques on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for an Edwardian fireplace. For example, to find a combination Edwardian fireplace, type 'combination Edwardian fireplace' into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also, visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for Edwardian fireplaces with keywords. If you can’t find the exact Edwardian fireplace you want, try shopping eBay Stores.

Conclusion

An antique Edwardian fireplace can add style, function and elegance to any room in the house. Since the period embraced a variety of styles, an Edwardian fireplace can probably be found to suit any room's décor. This guide has outlined the basic components of a fireplace, the popular styles of fireplaces in the Edwardian period, and how to clean and care for an Edwardian fireplace. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an Edwardian fireplace safely and securely on eBay.

 
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