Decorative Fireboards

The Graphic Arts Collection is the fortunate new owner of two decorative fireboards with color woodblock prints from Zuber & cie. A fireboard or chimney board is a panel designed to cover a fireplace during the warm months of the year. Neither of these sheets are titled or dated and since the Zuber artisans preserve their woodblocks for continued use, it is difficult know where or when they were made. The blocks were likely carved in the early 19th century, while the sheets may be 20th century.

If the scenes look familiar, the design of the fireboard was often a repetition of the wallpaper and/or other design elements in the room. There are many definitions online, but most are similar:

In warm weather, a fireboard effectively reduced the number of mosquitoes and other insects, or even birds, that might enter a house through an open, damperless chimney. The board or shutterlike contrivance typically of wood or cast of sheet metal frequently decorated with painting and stencilling. Some fireboards have notches cut out of the lowest edge to accommodate andirons.

Fireboards are also called: chimney boards, chimney pieces, chimney stops, fire boards, summer boards. Store-bought chimney board papers and panels of wallpaper custom cut to match the paper chosen for walls received similar treatment. Pasted to heavy paper or canvas nailed over the edges of the frame, they were less durable than wood fireboards and therefore less popular.


See other Zuber designs here: