The difference between the use of wrought iron and cast iron in the production of antique garden furniture was often down to its period, its method of manufacture and its style. Earlier Regency wrought iron examples were usually manufactured by the local blacksmith in his forge, and were much simpler in design, where later Victorian cast iron furniture was mass produced and designs were far more varied and elaborate.
From the plain parallel lines of a Regency reeded and lattice work wrought iron garden seat, the hand work of the smithies is evident. Heating and continued hammering of the iron removed impurities and made the iron malleable. Continued working and hammering could then produce the straight and curved designs that were required. Wrought iron furniture of this period was bespoke to clients’ requirements, individual to the smithies that made it, and highly durable but also very expensive.
Cast iron garden furniture on the other hand was mass produced in large foundries, was very much a product of the industrial revolution, much cheaper to produce and thus became freely available to a much wider market. Although not as strong as wrought iron, in fact it could be very brittle; the designs were generally more intricate and mirrored the ornate décor and furnishings of the Victorian era. Horse chestnut and oak leaf designs were very popular and a wooden pattern created to take the molten iron could be used over and over again to recreate the same designs.
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