From the Worthologists’ Files: 19th Century Brass Bed by Simmons
One of the advantages of being an appraiser is the sheer volume of incredible things one comes across on a weekly basis. Not all are hugely valuable, antique, rare or even all that sought after. Many times their value is only sentimental, but they often come with priceless provenances. Our Worthologist file cabinet is a treasure chest of such items– appraisal requests from our clients ranging from stuffed aardvarks to folk art zithers, all of which I’ll cover here in this column.
Based on the images and the markings, this is a late 19th Century brass bed by Simmons.
Based on the images and the markings, this is a late 19th Century brass bed by Simmons. The Simmons Bedding Company is a major American manufacturer of mattresses and related bedding products, based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was founded in 1870, and is one of the oldest companies of its kind in the United States.
Beginning in the mid 1800s, manufacturers like Simmons developed several methods for making beds out of hollow tubes of steel, iron, and brass. The big selling point was that metal beds did not “harbor vermin,” a virtue that appealed to most everyone as bedbugs, which hide in crevices of wooden beds, were the bane of every household during the Victorian era.
Production of them increased by the middle of the 19th Century. Even though their hygienic features were a big selling point, the demand for brass beds was greatly driven by London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, when millions of visitors viewed Queen Victoria’s brass bed at the Crystal Palace.
By 1855 brass beds were being mass produced along with less expensive iron beds. The styles ranged from institutional vertical bars to elaborate scroll work depending on what you could afford to spend.
Brass beds have gone through a number of revivals in popularity, the last one during the fad for Victorian decorating that lasted through much of the 1980’s through the early 1990’s. In fact, the trend drove prices quite high for an elaborate double sized bed. Since that time, values have dropped considerably, brass beds being a bargain in the current market, with examples comparable to this one often selling at auction in the $200.00- $400.00 range.
According to Worthopedia, this antique Simmons brass bed sold for $225 in January of 2016.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement. He can be reached through his website Antique-Appraise.com.