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Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses
(1898)

VI: fireplaces,   pp. 74-88


Page 85

                         Fireplaces
mounted by statuettes at' nymph or faun, to which time has
given the iridescence that modern bronze-workers vainly try to
reproduce with varnish.  These bronzes, and the old ormolu
andirons, are now almost introuvable-s; but the French artisan
still copies the old models with fair success (see Plates V and
XXX VI).    Andirons should not only harmonize with the design
of the mantel but also be in scale with its dimensions.   In the
fireplace of a large drawing-room, boudoir andirons would look
insignificant; white the monumental Renaissance fire-dogs would
dwarf a small mantel and make its ornamentation trivial.
  If andirons are gilt, they should be of ormolu.   The cheaper
kinds of gilding are neither durable nor good in tone, and plain
iron is preferable to anything but bronze or fire-gilding.  The
design of shovel and tongs should accord with that of the andi-
rons: in France such details are never disregarded.  The shovel
and tongs should be placed upright against the mantel-piece, or
rest upon hooks inserted in the architrave: the brass or gilt stands
now in use are seldom well designed.  Fenders, being merely
meant to protect the floor from sparks, should be as light and
easy to handle as possible: the folding fender of wire-netting is
for this reason preferable to any other, since it may be shut and
put away when not in use.    The low guards of solid brass in
favor in England and America not only fail to protect the floor,
but form a permanent barrier between the fire and those who
wish to approach it; and the latter objection applies also to the
massive folding fender that is too heavy to be removed.
  Coal-scuttles, like andirons, should be made of bronze, ormolu
or iron.  The unnecessary use of substances which require con-
stant polishing is one of the mysteries of English and American
housekeeping: it is difficult to see why a housemaid should spend


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