Fireplace Terms
.................. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Fire screen / Cheval screen / Pole screen

Fire screen - Any screen set in front of a fireplace to prevent flying sparks or embers from entering the room

Cheval (horse) screen - Wide screen attached to two legs. It was kept in front of the empty fireplace to hide ashes or the empty grate.

Pole screen - Small, flat, traylike piece attached to a pole. Placed next to a chair. The screen could be moved up and down the pole to shield a person's exposed skin from the intense heat. Screens were decorated with embroidery, banners, lacquer, straw work, cut paper or paint.

Fire screens help manage excess heat
Reprinted from "Antiques" newspaper column
By Ralph and Terry Kovel

When homes were heated by burning logs in a fireplace, it was very hot within a few feet of the fire. It was very cold in the rest of the room, and water would freeze in a log cabin ifkept more than 10 feet from the heat source.

High-back upholstered chairs were used to keep the heat off in the17th and 18th centuries.

Fire screens of many types were used. The screen reduced the intense heat and kept the sparks from flying into the room.

Most 18th-century fire screens were made of wood or wood with additional decoration of fabric or needlework, and never metal because it became so hot.

By the 1860s, heating stoves were available to warm the room, and fire screens were often more decorative than useful. They were used in front of smaller fires or empty fireplaces.

Some of the late 1800s screens were made of leaded and stained glass. Brass or iron was used to hold the glass. The screens must have been impressive when the fire was lit and the flames shined through the stained glass.

- William C. Ketchum, Jr., American Furniture: Chests, Cupboards, Desks, & Other Pieces.  Chanticleer Press, 2000

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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