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Back in the old days, I donít know this first hand because Iím not that old, but I am told that families gathered around the fireplace to cook and keep warm. In those days, although they werenít called a fireplace, but firebox, they still had screens that regulated the heat that came from hearth. These fireplace screens were normally made of wood, leather and wicker. At this point they were not really made of metal because they would become too hot to the touch.
As well as keeping the radiating heat of the fireplace from scorching someone, these fireplace screens also had a secondary duty, which today has become the primary duty; to protect our homes from flying embers. Therefore most screens then as they are today are covered with a safety mesh, some made of fabric an embroidered tapestry. Today, a lot of screens are made of metal with a metal mesh because we donít have to get too close to the fire to keep warm. In fact, we evolved away from fireplaces as home warmers in the mid-1860s when the wood stove was invented.
One of the first things that I ever sold on eBay was a vintage radio that had been sitting around the house for a long time. I had picked it up at an auction in Buffalo and although I was not a newbie to buying and selling antique and vintage items, it was the first time that I had sold anything to anyone outside of the old neighborhood. For a few years after that, I went into a frenzy; scouring flea markets, estate sales, yard and garage sales in search of more vintage radios and then rotary phones that I could sell on eBay.
It was about that time that fireplace screens became more of a semi-functional item in the home and more of an object of art. During the Victorian Era, more homes were decorated with elaborate and beautifully designed fireplace screens. Metal screens were more widely used and the some homes sported some beautiful screens made of stained glass. These types of screens are sought after by many decorators for use in the home designs.