Victorian fireback, cast iron with nature, bird, forest animal, and crown motifs

Victorian fireback

In the search to locate impressive decorative items that not only are unique and sensational looking, but also radiate the vintage charm that a Victorian Queen Anne, Eastlake, or related vintage home should have, don't overlook the venerable Victorian fireback. What is a fireback? Simply put, it is fairly large decorative cast iron piece that is placed at the back of the firebox.

Typically a fireback has cast impressions of traditional subjects such as nature scenes, flowers, urns, crowns, and birds at rest or in flight. As the fire heats up the fireback it continues to exude warmth and heat for some time after the fire has gone out. As a result it has the practical benefit of making the heating of the room more even. Of course, in these days of central heating that is not a big deal, but back in the day a Victorian fireback when operated as intended performed a valuable service to the homeowner. In addition, there may have been some benefit in protecting the masonry joints from direct flame, the theory being that the if the mortar deteriorated over time it would be more likely that flames could penetrate through the joints and catch the wall on fire. The cast iron piece would provide some protection, in theory. Whether that is a valid theory or not is open speculation, but on the face of it this sounds interesting and plausible But in modern times we use firebacks simply for decoration to add ambience. You might consider it a conversation piece.

Not surprisingly, there is some cost associate with shipping something as substantial as cast iron, although it is not as bad as you might think.