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BOOK REVIEW: Decorative Ironwork: Wrought Iron, Latticework, Gates, and Railings

Reviewed by: Chuck Hamsa, Reviewers' Consortium, Lafayette, Louisiana

DECORATIVE IRONWORK: WROUGHT IRON, LATTICEWORK, GATES, & RAILINGS, By Margarete Baur-Heinhold; Schiffer Publishing Company (77 Lower Valley Road, Atgen, PA 19310), 1996 (circa 1977); 176 Pages Hardbound; ISBN Number 0-7643-0153-5; Price $49.95 plus $2.95 shipping and handling.

Following a comprehensive, illustrated and textual presentation on decorative ironwork's history, techniques and the development of basic forms; Baur-Heinhold centers the reader's attention around the types of ironwork which existed up into the twentieth century. The abundance of illustrations in this section alone makes DECORATIVE IRONWORK... a treasure trove of information and major reference source for anyone interested in this subject. The author shows that even by the dawn of the fifteenth century, decorative ironwork was very much in evidence in its use with windows, doors, balconies, fences around cemeteries and individual tombs, fountains and public park gates and fences. But, by far, will the reader see that the greatest use of such artistic metalwork rested in the emergence of private holdings and estates.

But there is also another part of this wonderful book. And that is the simply awesome collection of black and white photographs of decorative ironwork from places throughout the world. Such images give graphic evidence to the high state of the ironworkers' art throughout wide geographic regions; however, it remains clear that the author worked heavily in the British Isles to produce this masterpiece. Appendices include an impressive, world-wide set of titles for additional research and a more than adequate index.

The author's publishing record is impressive. Some of Baur-Heinhold's works have dealt with German decoration and ornament along with mural painting and decoration (1952, 1955, 1981). She has also published on such subjects as German historic costume (1958) and furniture and interior decoration in Germany, with special emphasis on peasant origins (1961). Perhaps her most popular work was a title on German country furniture ([1966]; translated into English and American [1967] as well as Spanish [1971]). Other subjects include Baroque Theater (1967); German farmhouses (1967, 1975); a multi-lingual presentation on traveling through the central European, Inn River Valley (1970); history of library architecture (1972, 1974); ironwork in Europe (1977), with titles emphasizing decorative ironwork in Germany and Australia (1984) and German mural painting and decoration (1981).

While I do not normally list such a wide list of subjects about which someone has previously written, the subtotal of this wide range bears fruit in the production of a truly classic book that we now have on hand. It becomes evident that DECORATIVE IRONWORK will have a far reaching influence and would be an important purchase for both practicing blacksmiths or anyone interested in the subject.

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This page was last updated on February 24, 1997.