Depending how heavy Santa is this Christmas, he might cause today’s mystery artifact some stress when he lands in the fireplace after his slide down the chimney.
Yes, you clever guessers, this is a fireplace fender, the often decorative, but primarily practical unit that sits along the outside edge of the fireplace to establish a border between the fire and the room it sits in. The hot coals stay inside the hearth where they belong. (That’s the idea anyway.)
This fender is presumed to have been owned by the Longfellow Family, which would date it to the early-to-mid 19th century. A dog and possibly a turtle or lizard are featured on the centerpiece; two end pieces fit over the center and are adjustable.
Here are a slew of antique fireplace fenders if you’re considering adding something historic to your hearth.