WHEN wood was plentiful and easily gathered, the fireplace was built of generous proportions. At the back, lying in the ashes, was the back-log, sometimes so huge that a chain was attached to it, and it was dragged in by a horse. The forestick rested upon the andirons, and small sticks filled the space between backlog and forestick. In the wall beside the fireplace was built the brick oven, in which the baking was done. Upon baking day a wood fire was made inside this oven, and when the oven was thoroughly heated, the coals were removed, and the bread placed upon the oven bottom to bake leisurely. The tin kitchen was set before the fire, and pies and bread upon its shelves were cooked by the heat reflected and radiated from the tin hood.
Illus. 308. - Kitchen Fireplace in Lee Mansion, 1760.
Illustration 308 shows a great kitchen fireplace in the Lee mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with the tin kitchens in front of the fire, and the kettles and pots hanging over it, and the various kitchen utensils around it.
Fire-dogs or andirons are mentioned in the earliest inventories. The name "fire-dogs" came from the heads of animals with which the irons were ornamented. "Andirons" is a word corrupted From "hand irons," although some inventories speak of end-irons. Kitchen andirons were of iron similar to the ones in Illustration 316, but for the other fireplaces they were made of steel, copper, or brass, and in England even of silver.
Illus. 309. - Andirons, Eighteenth Century.
Illus. 310. - Andirons, Eighteenth Century.
Illustration 309 shows a pair of andirons, with shovel and tongs, owned by Francis H. Bigelow, Esq. The andirons are "rights and lefts," and have the brass knobs to prevent the forestick from falling forward. Illustration 310 shows another pair belonging to Mr. Bigelow, with claw-and-ball feet and the twisted flame top. These are given as good examples of the best styles of andirons in use in well-to-do households in America during the seventeenth century. Illustration 311 shows a pair of " Hessians " made of iron. Andirons of this style were very popular im-mediately after the Revolutionary War, the figures of the hated allies of the British thus receiving the treatment with flame and ashes that Americans considered the originals to merit, to say nothing of worse indignities cast upon them by the circle of tobacco-smoking patriots.
Andirons were made of different heights, and sometimes two or more sets were used in one fireplace, to hold larger and smaller sticks. Creepers are mentioned in early inventories. They were low irons placed between the andirons, to hold short sticks.
Illus. 311. - "Hessian" Andirons, 1776.
As wood grew less plentiful, and as the forests near by were cleared away, it was not so easy to obtain the huge backlog and the great pile of sticks to fill the generous fireplace, and by the middle of the eighteenth century its size had diminished. Many of the larger ones were partially filled in. The fireplace in the Ipswich Whipple house, when the house was bought by the society which now owns it, had been bricked in twice - once to make the space less, and the second time to fill it in entirely and put a fire-frame in its place. Chimneys which did not smoke were the exception until Count Rumford made his researches in heat and light, and by his discoveries and improvements in construction enabled our ancestors to have chimneys which did not smoke, and which did not carry up the greater portion of the heat from the fire.
Illus. 312. - Fireplace, 1770-1775.
Illustration 312 shows a fireplace in Salem of about 1775, with ball-topped andirons. The sets for the fireplace comprised the andirons, shovel, and tongs. The poker never accompanied the older sets, which were made before the use of coal as fuel had become common in this country, but a pair of bellows generally formed a part of the equipment of the fireplace.
Illustration 313 shows a fireplace in the residence of Harry Harkness Flagler, Esq., with a brass fender and a pair of "steeple-topped" andirons. Fenders were used in England earlier than in this country, to keep the sticks or coals of fire from rolling or flying out upon the floor in front of the fireplace, and to prevent children from getting into the fire. Their size was adapted to the reduced dimensions of the fireplaces, and they were used more with coal fires than with wood.
The design of andirons most commonly found is shown in Illustration 314. The little andirons between the larger ones are "creepers," and are used to hold short pieces of wood. They are of the same design as the larger pair, although they were bought several years, and hundreds of miles, apart.
Illus. 313. - Steeple-topped Andirons and Fender, 1775-1790.
The fender in Illustration 314 is of wire, painted black, with the top rail and balls of brass. The andirons and fender belong to the writer.
Illus. 314. - Andirons, Creepers, and Fender, 1700-1800.
Judge Sewall ordered in 1719 for his daughter Judith, about to be married, "a bell-metal skillet, a warming pan, four pairs of brass headed iron dogs, a brass hearth for a chamber with dogs, tongs, shovel and fender of the newest fashion (the fire to lie on the iron), a brass mortar, four pairs of brass candlesticks, four brass snuffers with stands, six small y brass chafing dishes, two brass basting ladles, a pair of bellows with brass nose, a small hair broom, a dozen pewter porringers, a dozen small glass salt cellars, and a dozen good ivory hafted knives and forks."