Horsing Around

19th Century Cast Iron Hitching Posts

Edited by W. Douglas McCombs

Subjects: American History, New York/regional
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9780939072170, 76 pages, January 2008

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Overview of cast iron hitching posts designed and manufactured in the nineteenth century.


Horsing Around is the first publication devoted to the design, manufacture, and use of cast-iron hitching posts in America. This catalogue highlights the extraordinary collection of cast-iron hitching posts owned by Phil and Bunny Savino and exhibited in 2008 by the Albany Institute of History and Art. In addition to new scholarship, more than ninety examples of American-made hitching posts are illustrated in color, along with illustrations from nineteenth-century trade catalogues and patent designs.

Hitching posts, like weathervanes, were utilitarian in nature, but have recently entered the realm of folk art with their sometimes whimsical and unusual forms. Horse heads, for example, allude to the function and purpose of the posts while eagles and flag-draped posts reflect the patriotic fervor that gripped Americans around the time of the Centennial in 1876. Other popular designs include dogs, snakes, globes, people, and architectural elements. Though most hitching posts are unmarked, there are excellent examples from foundries such as Starbuck's in Troy, New York, the J. W. Fiske Iron Works in Manhattan, and the Stewart Iron Works of Cincinnati, Ohio.

W. Douglas McCombs is Curator of History at the Albany Institute of History and Art.