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Maker(s):Elizabeth Furnace (attributed)
Culture:American (probably)
Date Made:mid 18th century
Type:Temperature Control
Materials:base metal: iron
Place Made:United States; Pennsylvania; Lancaster County; Manheim
Measurements:overall: 34 x 29 in.; 86.36 x 73.66 cm
Accession Number:  HD 62.035
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Cast iron fireback with a stepped arched top and the English coat of arms, which according to the data file was made at the Elizabeth Furnace. The Furnace was in operation from 1750-1856 under several owners, starting with H. William Stiegel, probably born in Cologne, Germany, and not a baron as he claimed, who came to America in 1750 and married Elizabeth, daughter of iron works owner, Jacob Huber. Stiegel bought Huber's iron works in 1757 with two partners and renamed it after his wife.The earliest English fireback recorded by Dr. Henry Mercer in "The Bible in Iron" was dated 1548; he states that: "fireback, that is to say, heavy plates of cast iron (rarely of clay in Flanders) two or more feet square, generally decorated with coats of arms, dates, inscriptions, allegorical and mythological scenes, and placed against the wall in an open heath back of the fire, had been in use in England, Holland, Flanders, France and Central Europe since the middle or the end of the 15th century." That decoration on firebacks was produced by pouring iron into a mold made by a wooden pattern impressed into a box of damp sand. Earlier fires tended to be placed in the middle of halls with roof holes overhead. Firebacks became necessary when fires were moved to open hearths and chimneys, where besides being decorative, firebacks protected the soft, fragile bricks and reflected heat back into the rooms. As open wood fires were replaced by soft coal grates in England by 1800, especially in those homes of the wealthy, and by coal stoves and grates in America by about 1840, there are few 19th century firebacks.

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