The Enduring Charm of Cast Iron


One of a pair of Nineteenth Century cast iron eagles retaining their original painted surfaces.

Perhaps more used to seeing cast iron sculptures in the form of the angels, pixies, gnomes and garden critters that populate suburban gardens, visitors to Antiques at the Armory, produced by Stella Show Mgmt Co, January 20-22, can discover some robust and rare antique examples in the booth of Judith & James Milne as part of the folk art coming to the 26th Street Armory.

Says dealer Judith Milne, “If one thinks about the majority of cast iron sculptures, one realizes that the pieces were made for places where they would be exposed to the weather.” Examples on display by the New York City couple include building architectural forms, such as a pair of Nineteenth Century eagles that retain their original painted surfaces, weathervanes, exemplified by a Nineteenth Century rooster in old paint, and items for the garden or entrance way, represented by a Nineteenth Century standing dog in old black paint.

“Since all these locations required a durable material, cast iron was an obvious but more expensive choice for the homeowner,” she adds. There were many foundries operating in the Northeast during the Nineteenth Century. The Milnes believe the dog was made in an iron foundry in Poultny, Vt., .while the rooster comes from the Rochester Ironworks foundry in New Hampshire. The eagles came off a building in Chicago. “All have come into the Twenty-First Century in good condition due to the iron,” says Judith.

Nineteenth Century standing dog in old black paint.

Check out these enduring — and endearing — examples of folk art at the Milnes’ booth and visit their website at http://www.milneinc.com. For show information, http://www.stellashows.com or 973-808-5015.

-W.A. Demers

Nineteenth Century cast iron rooster in old paint.

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