Postat in 26 August 2016

The fireplace during ages

The fireplace is defined as an architectural structure with the main purpose of heating a confined space. We all know, however, that it also has a very important decorative role. Did you know that in the beginning fireplaces had an important food preparation role?


At first, the fireplace represented a simple stone construction most often sitting in the middle of the room. Its thick smoke was discharged through a hole in the ceiling, often spreading inside the room as well. The spot served as a meeting place for members of a family or a tribe, keeping everyone warm and helping them cook food.


Journey from the open fire to a fireplace

In time, this primitive fireplace has been improved so as to have more control over fire – to soothe it or arouse it, to direct the smoke and to preserve the heat for a longer period of time. Strictly historically speaking, we know for sure that the fireplace air vent appears only in 1678 invented by Prince Rupert, nephew of King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland. This invention brings an obvious improvement to the combustion.

Two major innovations in the development of fireplaces followed in the eighteenth century, when Benjamin Franklin built the first convection chamber. This increased the heat efficiency, which resulted in saving the amount of wood consumed. The same inventor performed the first installation pumping fresh air at the base of the fire and the warm air column. Towards the end of the same century, Count Rumford created the first fireplace mouth resting on a foundation, meaning on a higher ground, as well as methods for directing the smoke through a chimney.

The fireplace has soon earned a prominent place in popular culture, as evidenced by the emergence of the famous weekly radio programs featuring the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944 – Fireside chats.


What does a fireplace contain

If we try to reduce a modern fireplace to its basic elements, we realize that it must have a foundation, a firebox, an opening, a censer, a fume mouth and a smoke room or horn. Things are more complicated, however, as of even more importance are also special isolations, the form and size of the lid, the exterior cladding and trim, the specific tools, and many more.

The materials a fireplace is made from are also very important, as they can be refractory brick or natural stone, but also concrete or prefabricated materials with metal casing. Add to all this a variety of accessories that usually accompany a well equipped fireplace. These vary depending on the area where they were invented and the specific historical periods. Some accessories (pliers, dustpan, protective grills, bellows, ash brushes, partitions) are true works of art that entered into private collections and are prized for their decorative value.

All this makes a fireplace both a useful object, and a true masterpiece of human ingenuity, which brings both warmth and beauty to any home, connecting families to tradition and to the perennial human values transcending the centuries.



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