Object of the Month: January 2021

This month we look at a beautiful design by Ernest Gimson.

Published: 4 January 2021

Steel Firedogs by Ernest Gimson
Steel Firedogs by Ernest Gimson

Chosen by

Kerem, Digital Team

Collection

Decorative Arts

Object Name

Steel Firedogs

Place Made

Sapperton, Gloucestershire

Object Information

A firedog (or andiron) is a pair of supports, on which logs are laid for burning in an open fireplace.

These beautiful firedogs (one of the pair is show in the photos) were designed by famous Leicester-born Arts & Crafts designer Ernest Gimson. Made in 1903, Gimson wrote about them in a letter to his contemporary Philp Webb (dated 23 December 1907):

'The fire-dogs were made by the young village smith and were pierced and chased on his anvil. My smiths all think such things rather trivial & are much happier with their forges & hammers – as who wouldn’t be!'

The unique design has heart motifs appearing through it and includes the classic Arts & Crafts metalworking techniques of piercing and chasing into cold metal. 

Ernest Gimson, born on 21 December 1864, was the son of Josiah Gimson, owner of the Leicester based Gimson & Co. engineering firm. The family lived at 4 Belmont Villas on New Walk and Gimson went to school in Stoneygate.

In 1881 Gimson was articled to Isaac Barradale, a local architect who was responsible for both domestic and commercial buildings in the city including his own office building in Greyfriars completed in 1879. In January 1884 William Morris was invited by the Leicester Secular Society to give a talk on ‘Art and Socialism’. By March 1886 Gimson had moved to London, working in the architectural office of John Dando Sedding and living in lodgings in Kentish Town. by the ealry 1890s Gimson had left behind the traditional architecture career and moved to Gloucestershire where he would spend the rest of his life dedicated to the Arts & Crafts ideals of designing handmade furniture using quality local sourced materials. He continued his practise as an architect, designing a selection of houses in Leicester and other buildings around England.

Gimson was a key figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement, inspired by William Morris to become a designer and craftsman the embodied the spirit of the movement in both his design and his personal life.

Find out more about Ernest Gimson's fascinating life and see the collections held by Leicester's Museum & Galleries at our dedicated website: