Fireplace bellows were usually made by brass candle-stick makers, local copper or tanners. Antique bellows could now be located in many antique stores or from an online dealer; however some of the original pieces may have been replaced. For example, leather dries and hardens over time, wood cracks and breaks and nails rust and sometimes falls out completely. If you are looking for an antique bellow, make sure you are getting the real thing, not a rebuilt original.
Decorated wood boards, protective handles and cast-brass nozzles are usually always original to the antique bellows. The other pieces may have been removed or restored by a professional restorer.
Early 19th century antique bellows are distinguishable by their colored paint. An expert on antiques could tell the real thing from a restored bellow from the age of the paint, if the boards were stenciled or ‘free-handed’, the age of the wood and the originality of the decoration on the boards. Many dealers of antiques, whether they are antique fireplace bellows or antique chairs, depend on their extensive knowledge of simply handling the items over and over again and getting to know different brands or manufacturers of the items.
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