Firebacks

IM series

13 results

  1. 1064

    dunsfold,_pound farm a.jpg
    1270 x 850 mm

    Description: A rectangular field with a central circle containing a fouled anchor, the rope gathered in eleven loops around it; in the top spandrels the initials HH, on the left, and IH, on the right; below the circle, the initials IM inset in a square; on each side, a strapwork Ionic pilaster formed of alternate hollow squares, with a pyramidal infill in low relief, and hollow circles; outside each pilaster, a crouching stylised humanoid figure, facing inwards, disgorging a fructed vine; above the figures two opposed volutes, forming part of the edging; above the central field, a semi-circular compartment containing a bird, its wings inverted, and three hollow diamond shapes irregularly arranged; the date above the bird; protruding from the edging above each pilaster is a small, inward-facing scroll. Three vertical plank lines can be discerned, one in front of the right-hand figure, one through the I of the initials IH, and one to the right of the second H of the initials HH. The whole design is in low relief.

    Notes: This is a reworking of a design seen on a fireback of 1608 (no. 585) though intentionally stylised. The decorative elements have yet to be fully interpreted; on the 1608 version the figures are fauns, the vines disgorged from their mouths being related to the 'green man' tradition associated with woodland spirits and symbolising resurrection, the latter echoed by the bird which, on the earlier version is a phoenix. However, in the form in which they appear on both firebacks they may be purely decorative devices. By contrast, the cabled anchor is the badge of the Lord High Admiral but in 1633 the office was vacant. The initials IM indicate that this is an early work by a prolific fireback pattern-maker more usually associated with the eastern Weald.

    Inscription: 1633 / HH IH / IM

    Manufactured: in 1633 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Pound Farm, Common Road, Dunsfold, Surrey, England.

    Citation: Wall, J. R. S., 20 May 1965, 'Wealden Fireback' [letter], Country Life, p. 1208.

  2. 81

    guildford_museum 06.jpg
    677 x 620 mm

    Description: Rectangular with two mirrored scrolls on top, a lion’s face between; bas-relief semi-circle edging (sides and bottom); central pilaster with vine scrolling, Corinthian capital, initials on the pedestal; on either side, an arched alcove, each with a halberdier in mid-17th century clothes, their feet pointing to the middle.

    Notes: Stylistically similar to the Lenard fireback (no. 429), the initials also appear on other firebacks, possibly from Brede. All known examples of this fireback are poorly modelled and cast.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: IM

    Manufactured: in the early to mid 17th century possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Guildford Museum, Guildford, Surrey, England.

    Museum number: S.7108 (part of the Guildford Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48.

    Citation: Lloyd, N., 1925, 'Domestic Ironwork I', Architectural Review, 58, pp. 58-67.

  3. 354

    keighley,_east riddlesden hall.jpg
    433 x 463 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shaped; unique, cavetto moulded edging, which loops upon itself three times. A mythical salamander shown in the flames which legend states it is able to resist; behind is what appears to be a palm tree, on either side of which the date is stamped. Two plank-lines.

    Notes: Whole pattern with added date; one of a series of firebacks where the number ‘1’ is hooked at both ends. Damage and subsequent repair to the bottom right corner has obliterated a letter 'M' seen on another casting; presumably part of 'IM'. A variant, at Lewes, is incorrectly dated 1550.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1650

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, Yorkshire, England.

    Museum number: NT/ERH/M/40 (part of the National Trust museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2007, 'A Godly chimney plate and other firebacks from Brede', Wealden Iron, 2nd ser., 27, pp. 18-26.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

    Citation: Schubert, H. R., 1957, 'A Forgery in Iron', Journal of the Iron & Steel Institute, 165, p. 125.

  4. 407

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 041.jpg
    435 x 470 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shaped; unique, cavetto moulded edging, which loops upon itself three times. A mythical salamander shown in the flames which legend states it is able to resist; behind is what appears to be a palm tree, on either side of which the date is stamped.

    Notes: The fireback has been incorrectly dated 1550 instead of 1650, which Schubert, following W. R. Lethaby, asserted was a forgery claiming indications that a ‘6’ had been erased. Undoubtedly the first '5' is more prominent than the other figures though the exact method by which it has been substituted is not clear. Corrosion to the bottom right corner may have obliterated a letter 'M' seen on another casting; presumably part of 'IM'.

    Inscription: 1550

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Anne of Cleves House, Southover High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: LH000.901 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

    Citation: Dawson, C., 1903, 'Sussex Iron Work and Pottery', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 46, pp. 1-54.

    Citation: Gardner, J. S., 1898, 'Iron Casting in the Weald', Archaeologia, 56, 1, pp. 133-164.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

    Citation: Lethaby, W. R., 1 Oct 1926, 'English Cast Iron - I', The Builder, 131, no. 4365, pp. 537-8.

    Citation: Lower, M. A., 1866, 'The Antiquities preserved in the Museum of Lewes Castle', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 18, pp. 60-73.

    Citation: Schubert, H. R., 1957, 'A Forgery in Iron', Journal of the Iron & Steel Institute, 165, p. 125.

  5. 408

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 042.jpg
    580 x 480 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; cavetto moulded edge all round; holes pierced in top corners; a fouled anchor with one fluke resting on the base, a scroll below each top corner, foliage above the text, which is above the anchor; the initials either side of the lower fluke.

    Notes: The inscription is a quotation from Psalms 139, v. 1: ‘Domine, probasti me et cognovisti me’ (Lord, thou hast searched me and known me).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: PROBASTI / ME / I M 16 5[0?]

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Anne of Cleves House, Southover High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: LH000.908 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

    Citation: Dawson, C., 1903, 'Sussex Iron Work and Pottery', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 46, pp. 1-54.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

  6. 891

    pimlico,_gifford mead 04a.jpg
    470 x >430 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shaped; unique, cavetto-moulded edging, which loops upon itself three times. A mythical salamander shown in the flames which legend states it is able to resist; behind is what appears to be a palm tree.

    Notes: Other known variants are dated; this variant confirms that the dates were added to subsequent castings. Corrosion to the bottom right corner may have obliterated a letter 'M' seen on another casting; presumably part of 'IM'.

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location:, not known.

    Citation: Schubert, H. R., 1957, 'A Forgery in Iron', Journal of the Iron & Steel Institute, 165, p. 125.

  7. 590

    richmond,_ham house 02.jpg
    685 x 558 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape, semi-circular protrusions on top corners; cavetto-moulded edging; two mirrored scrolls inside arch; a phoenix in flames, its wings displayed and inverted.

    Notes: A variant (no. 895) bears the date, 1650, and the initials, IM; a loop normally at the top is absent, and careless pouring of the iron has obliterated some of the detail down the right side of the casting.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Ham House, Richmond, Surrey, England.

    Museum number: 1139821 (part of the National Trust museum group)

  8. 657

    rolvenden,_halden place.jpg
    890 x 725 mm

    Description: Rectangular with curved top corners; Arched rectangular extension on top; ovolo edging; mounted figure in 17th cent. armour riding down a dragon to the left and below, sword in hand; inscription across top and either side of horseman; date below left; initials below right.

    Notes: Probably a representation of St George and the Dragon, with political undertones, given the date. Cursius may be a mis-spelling of Marcus Curtius, who sacrificed himself for the good of Rome. Nil Desperandum - Despair not. Other firebacks also bear the initials, IM, which probably relate to the pattern maker, some with a similar style of lettering.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: CVRSIVS / NIL DESPERANDVM / 1650 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Rolvenden, Kent, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48.

  9. 901

    unknown_42  laughing lion 787x700mm.jpg
    787 x 700 mm

    Description: Quasi-Arched rectangular shape with cyma reversa shoulders; ovolo edging; stylised lion passant guardant; crowned rose with leaf and stem on left, crowned fleur de lys on right, thistle with leaves above centre; three right-facing scrolls at base; down-facing scroll, with staple, on right side; date split between bottom corners; initials below date, bottom right.

    Notes: Blatantly Royalist in its symbolism, a variant (no. 763) is dated (perhaps less convincingly) 1649. Numeral style, initials, leaf depiction and the stapled scroll are typical features of firebacks made from patterns by the same maker. A later version of the same subject, but with a different shaped plate and without the fleur-de-lys, is also known (see 'Royalist series'). M. A. Lower writes of this design of fireback being cast at Waldron Furnace in Sussex (Lower, 1849, p.219).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 41 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1641 possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Wandsworth, London, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48.

    Citation: Lower, M. A., 1849, 'Iron Works of the County of Sussex', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 2, pp. 169-220 (esp. pp. 188-9).

  10. 750

    va_26.jpg
    445 x 440 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; cavetto edging; crowned rose with symmetrical leaves; date split across top; initials split across bottom.

    Notes: The hooked ‘1’ and ‘IM’ suggests a common pattern-maker with other firebacks bearing those features.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 50 / I M

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede Furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.

    Museum number: M.113-1953 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2012, 'Pre-Restoration Iron Firebacks', Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 20, pp. 2-15.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48.