A peek into aquarium history

by | Jun 29, 2015 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments


This is a cast iron framed aquarium manufactured by JW Fiske Ironworks in 1876 (nearly 140 years old!).  It measures 36x15x15 inches.  Aside from the super heavy and intricate iron frame and base, the aquarium also features mirrors inlayed into the four inside corners of the aquarium.

Fiske was based in New York City and was America’s most prominent iron and zincwork manufacturer in the 19th century.  Their metalworks include a variety of aquariums ranging from this “table-top” aquarium to complete stand+frame+aquarium systems.



Here is a slightly younger aquarium system circa 1920s-1930s which features beautiful seahorse legs.  This aquarium/stand was manufactured by the Jewel Aquarium Company of Chicago, IL (USA). Unlike JW Fiske whose metalworks spanned many different industries, Jewel specialized in only high-end elaborate iron aquarium stands such as this seahorse design, which the company was most recognized for.  The seahorse legs were each hand hammered then coated with bronze with patina.  Even if its aesthetics don’t fit modern tastes, its craftsmanship is impressive and rarely (if ever) seen these days.


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