What are firedogs?

By SALLY REYNOLDS
Friends of the History Center contributor

So many of us have wonderful memories of sitting in front of a roaring, cozy fire drinking hot chocolate, enjoying a glass of wine or reading a good book. But how many of us have noticed what was supporting those roaring logs?

Most people are familiar with an andiron, some probably have a pair in their fireplace right now. But before there were andirons, there were “firedogs.”

Firedogs have been found in Switzerland dating back as far as 900-800 BC. Firedogs and andirons are two horizontal bars used to hold logs above the hearth in order to improve air circulation for better burning. They typically stand upon short legs and are usually connected with an upright guard. Firedogs are made of metal or ceramic. Unlike andirons, which reached their greatest artistic development under Louis XIV of France, firedogs have little or no ornamentation. Today there also seems to be a regional distinction in the United States when they are referred to as an “andiron” or “firedog.” Andiron was once Northern, contrasting with the Southern firedog. Firedog remains limited to the Southern region, but andiron is now in use everywhere.

The soon-to-open History Center for Aransas County will house a pair of firedogs, which were graciously donated by Dan Agler. They were handmade in 1875 by a local blacksmith for Simon Sorenson’s new home which was located on Water Street in Rockport. Watch for the opening of the Bruhl-Paul-Johnson home (the History Center for Aransas County) after the first of the year, and come see the firedogs and many other interesting relics and artifacts relating to Aransas County.

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The History Center for Aransas County showcases local heritage.  Outdoor and indoor exhibits tell the stories of the real people of Aransas County. The Center provides space for displays, workshops, meetings and gatherings.

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