The value of authentic, antique beds made with brass frames is high. In some instances, values are more than $10,000. Antique brass beds, once they appeared in America at the New York World's fair in 1853, became popular in the United States almost overnight. That popularity has continued into modern times, when simple to highly ornamented beds are available. There is greater availability, of course, in reproductions. Antiques and reproductions are of varying quality and, therefore, value.
Antique brass beds were crafted in the Victorian Age, the reign of Queen Victoria,from 1837 to 1901. They first appeared in England in the 1820s and in America in 1850s. Antique beds, in contrast to modern reproductions, produced only single and double beds. Some four-poster beds were made; but more often bed frames were crafted with side wings to hang curtains.
The most expensive antique brass beds are in good condition, all brass and have ornate scrollwork and carvings. Poor-quality antiques can be valued as low as $1,000. Usually in bad condition, they often contain metals other than brass and have little ornamentation. If antique beds are reconfigured--the double bed is converted to queen size, for example--the value will decline. The value of good antiques is likely to increase.
Most parts of antique brass beds were cast by hand, including scrolls and curves. The elaborate ornamentation often included cornices, or molded crowns, on horizontal bars. All parts were hand-polished and some were hand-lacquered. Headboards and footboards had vertical as well as horizontal lines. Authentic antiques often have the manufacturing date imprinted under the footings or on frames.
Although genuine antiques are the most valuable brass beds, some problems exist. They may no longer be structurally sound. Beds that weren't lacquered need an enormous amount of polishing, because modern lacquers contain substances that retain polish. Antique brass beds were not made in popular queen and king sizes. Over their near 200 years of existence, the brass on some antique beds have been painted over and many are worn from polishing.
The value of antique reproductions can be high and solid brass ones will likely appreciate over time. At the low end, prices are a few hundred dollars. At the high end and with elaborate ornamentation, prices ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. The most extravagant reproductions, which might include canopies and enormous ornamentation, could even reach $20,000. Modern copies and interpretations of antique brass beds include trundle beds, cribs and daybeds.
Nina Kramer, a novelist who published her first novel in 2002, is currently working on a series of novels set in modern China. Previously, she managed the American Society of Civil Engineers' journals department. A passionate gardener and home decorator, she has a B.A. in English literature from George Washington University.