A Brief History of Bird Cages Through Time

Hendryx, round, hanging pagoda-style bird cage with a brass-wire seed screen and side-out tray.
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Casters appeared on large cages for ease of movement. Feeder designs improved, and mess management systems are still being perfected. Your bird may be living in tomorrows collectible.

 

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Cristiano has been in the antique cage business for about four years but has been a memorabilia buff since he began collecting coins as a child.

 

Now he’s a fixture at antiques shows and events around Long Island, NY, and his business, North Fork Pets and Antiques, is getting buzz as the place to look for antique and vintage bird cages and pet and veterinary collectibles.

 

birdcage big A Brief History of Bird Cages Through Time

 

I had a pair of canaries, and my fiance remarked that I had lovely antiques and suggested I look around for cages and avian memorabilia.

 

Soon after, I saw an Art Deco cage, which I obtained at a low price, then I began studying the styles and artistry of bird cages. The concept I’d had from working in the pet shop “A cage is just a cage” quickly changed to “A cage is an art form”.

Find a pictorial history of bird food here

I learned about Art Noveau, Art Deco, the Arts and Crafts movement, rustics and more. Cages became sculpture to me.

The cages from Enlightenment Period in the 1600s and 1700s looked like something I’d like to live in myself. The cages from Middle Europe, Flanders, Holland and Austria were very architectural, even castle-like.

A longtime history aficionado, Cristiano was unable to locate anyone who had made the study of antique cages a serious avocation. There was no centralized source to consult for information on vintage and antique cages.

bird cage stand australia english victorian walnut hanging with 4 turned sides and finials steampunk metal decorative A Brief History of Bird Cages Through Time

The best way to do it, he deduced, was to go trough old catalogs and books. So, Cristiano bought an old pet supply catalog dating back to the 1800s (his oldest is circa 1820) and parrot care books dating from around 1800. “I had a limited budget and limited time. I went online to do more research, and now museums call me for help in dating pieces.”

One of the museums that called upon Cristiano for assistance is the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

 

The museum is planning an exhibit called Pets in America, which will open in September 2005. Beginning in early 2006 and continuing trough 2007, the exhibit will travel to sites throughout the United States. The first stop will be at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

According to Executive Director Lynn Robertson, vintage cages and bird supplies will be on exhibit, and presentations will include talks on the history of birdkeeping. For information contact: the Kissick Museum at (803) 777-7251, or visit www.cla.sc.edu/MCKS for periodic updates.

Some of Cristiano’s cages end up back where they began. Someone at the Hartz Mountain Group in an Internet search on old products and learned of a rare Hartz Mountain cage in Cristiano’s possession. The company purchased the cage, and it’s now on display in its corporate offices.

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