Guardians of the Fire
Andirons epitomize Renaissance Revival aesthetic.
Thank you for sending me an image of your fabulous dragon andirons. They are a terrific pair and a telling example about the history of andirons.
Andirons (also known as firedogs) were created purely for utilitarian purposes in the 14th century to raise logs from the fireplace floor to more easily start a fire and to prevent the firewood from rolling forward into the room. Originally made out of iron bars, andirons were sometimes fitted with an area for a spit for roasting meat. As skill in metalwork developed and consumers desire for ornamentation grew, andirons became more elaborate and decorative.
Your andirons are signed B&H, standing for Bradley and Hubbard, and date to the late 19th century. Bradley and Hubbard was founded in 1852 in Meriden, Conn., right before the Civil War. The company was first known for making clocks and in the 1870s shifted production to oil and kerosene lamps. As they continued to grow, Bradley and Hubbard diversified into decorative and practical ironwork. From fences and elevator enclosures to bookends and doorstops, Bradley and Hubbard prospered and was renowned for creating quality products.
The Charles Parker Company, known for its manufacture of guns, wanted to broaden its scope to household goods and purchased Bradley and Hubbard just prior to the onset of World War II. Sadly, during the start of the war, the company shifted all production to the war effort and disbanded the Bradley and Hubbard name.
Your wonderful andirons are probably from the 1880s and certainly epitomize the Renaissance Revival aesthetic. I have seen this model before, but not with the gilded highlights, nor with the remaining log bar. They appear to be in overall very good condition with one replaced screw. Certainly any fire would roar with this pair of fire-breathing dragons in your living room.
I would value this pair of andirons at $2,000.