They might be handsome ones of brass or crude and sturdy ones of iron, but either type was craftsman-made and into each the maker put his feeling for line and proportion. And they were so well and honestly made that even after years of hard use they are as serviceable as ever.
This usefulness plus beauty is undoubtedly why collectors turn, if possible, to antique andirons when equipping a fireplace. Some of these old andirons were undoubtedly imported, but more were made in America. With the brass handles that American cabinetmakers from the William and Mary period through the American Empire period decorated chests of drawers, desks, and other pieces, the story is different. Practically all of them came from the workshops of the brass founders of Birmingham, in England. Known in their day as "cabinet mounts," they were small things easily shipped to far-distant places.
Besides, the craftsmen of Birmingham made better brasses and for about a hundred and fifty years enjoyed what amounted to a monopoly in this phase of brass founding. Therefore, an account of when, how, and in what patterns they made their cabinet brasses has its definite place in any book concerned with antiques and their collecting.