As the Industrial Revolution influenced the 19th Century world, techniques like the Bessemer steel production process enabled inventors and engineers to utilize metal for springs and frames.
Bed frames, springs, and woven wires were becoming the fashion of the late 19th Century but none of it would have been possible without the important historic events preceding it. The telegraph industry that first started in 1844 with the 40 mile line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore had grown to over 5000 miles within just 10 years. Innovation was fueled by the enormous demand for iron rails by the formative American railroad industry, and the demand for hundreds of thousands of miles of barbed wire fencing to conquer and enclose the Westward expansion. It took 250 pounds of iron to make a mile of wire. Hoop skirts were another craze, as production methods were perfected. The mattress industry finally began adopting steel springs and other “contraptions” into sleep products.
In the formative years of the American bedding industry, the “mattress” was used as a foundation. The woven wire mattress was not directly slept on, but served as a foundation for a cloth encasement, usually with cotton batting, which we also called a mattress.
Woven Wire Patents
On July 27, 1869, Alois Kneppler from East New York received patent 93, 096 for an “improved Spring Bed Bottom that used conical springs sitting on the top of a wooden slat network. This prevented the woven wire from stretching or sagging.
Daniel and John Gail, of Brooklyn, New York, improved the “woven wire mattress or bed bottoms” with an interlinked construction as depicted.
The Word “Fabric” and the Word “Mattress”
The word “fabric” became used for metal wire fashioned and woven into links or chains, just like cloth textile uses warp and weft to create substance.
Woven wire mesh or fabric was also incorporated into cots and portable beds. Eventually this wire link materials was utilized in the modern folding sleeper sofas introduced in the 1930s.
This photo depicts a cotton mattress on top of a woven wire spring assisted mattress and demonstrates in a single image both 19th Century definitions of mattress.
Wire Form Support Becomes the Box Spring
Woven wires eventually evolved into a complete spring bed bottom.
Producers Of “Woven Wires” Across The USA
Small industrial operations sprung up all over the northeast that produced woven wires.
And the development of woven wire mattresses was not exclusive the US.
The Etymology of “Mattress” (English Words We Commonly Use)