Please help ID cast iron decorative piece of ??

nutmegerFebruary 25, 2013

This cast iron piece is really interesting but I'm not sure what it is from! The lady I purchased it from thought it was from an old cast iron stove. I didn't find hinges on it anywhere. The edges are covered with tape. There are 2 small knobs on the sides but I doubt that would have been used to open a wood stove. One section is rusting slightly and the other section glimmers a little, like its copper. How would I clean it? Could it be painted under the black? Does anyone know what it was used for and what timeframe its from? Its 25.5" long x 20" wide and heavy. There are a couple of numbers on the back of it.
Thanks for your help!
-- Pauline

The bottom section is a little glimmery:

a little rust here:

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possibly a fireback for a fire place? see link.

Here is a link that might be useful: fireback

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 8:24AM
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Oh - that would be interesting! This piece weighs around 25 lbs. Is that heavy enough to be a fireback? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:26AM
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Ir else the decorative shield that some fireplaces had - you slid them into place to hide the fireplace during the summer.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Bingo....fireplace cover for summer months! See Ebay link below. Even has the 2 knob handles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fireplace Front Cover

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:47PM
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Glad you discovered it's function.
Architectural metalwork from this period (1890-1910) was intended to be ornate, but chaste. Only the raised motifs would have been brightly polished, the stippled background was intended to have a dark patina. The contrast helped the polished bits stand out better.

It's possible that this piece is solid bronze, but maybe it is bronze plated brass or iron. If the latter two, be really careful if you do polish the high spots, because the bronze plating can be very thin. Just don't use Brasso, use a neutral cleaner, and a scrub brush, rinse, and dry. Then use a fine metal polish like Flitz or Simichrome to spot polish the details.

After polishing, clean again to remove the excess polish from the background. You can use a degreaser like Simple Green for this, as it leaves no residue when you rinse it, and it does not promote tarnish on the polished metal.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:10PM
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Ooohhh! Very cool! Mine even has the upper lip. Now the handles make sense. Do you think the numbers on the back mean anything?
Thanks a bunch!!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:16PM
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can you please recommend a neutral metal cleaner? Or can you suggest which ingredients to avoid in a cleaner? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Neutral in terms of pH, so nothing acidic. Metals do OK with bases, so Fantastic brand cleaner isn't bad. Ammonia does help remove tarnish from brass, but in a dilute form like the amount in Windex. Over-exposure to strong ammonia solutions will make brass porous by leeching out the zinc, then it becomes impossible to polish it. An overnight soak in a detergent solution would be fine for brass or bronze, but not if the cover is plated iron.
The old recipe using vinegar and salt works fast, too fast, and can ruin metal fast and without warning.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:22PM
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