Antique Jenny Lind Spool Bed

I didn't think twice about buying this Jenny Lind bed when I spotted it in a thrift store. I love, love, love the classic design. Also, it's fun to run your fingers up, down, and across the spools -- sort of musical, which is great for nights you have trouble falling asleep. Unless you share your room with someone else, in which case it's not so great for your roommate.


The finish on the head- and footboard was a little tired and worn. On the plus side the bed did include the original slats making for a complete set. One spool on the headboard looked as if a piece had broken off at one point in time, but the previous owner affixed it back into place and the repair was very secure. The rails are solid and extremely sturdy although they had quite a bit more wear and tear to the surface. There were casters at one time but those were gone. The wood was chipped at the end of one of the legs, so I filled that in with wood filler and sanded it smooth.
Visible repair by previous owner. 
It is visually obvious but sturdy nonetheless.
I repaired the chipped area with wood filler.

My guess is that the bed was made circa 1880's to early 1900's. The only visible nails are on the underside of the rails and the nail heads themselves were quite irregular which is a clue to its time period. There wasn't a manufacturer's name on the bed; however, the iron hardware was stamped "M. Greenwood".

The M. Greenwood & Company was founded by Miles Greenwood in Cincinnati. The company was founded in 1832 was in business into at least the 1880's. Mr. Greenwood died in 1885. His heirs may have continued the business after his death, so the bed may have been built after his death.

I planned to paint the bed white, and I knew there would be a high likelihood of tannin bleeding through. So I applied a couple of coats of shellac prior to painting. After applying the first coat of paint I did notice a few areas with bleed through, so I applied a couple more coats of shellac on those areas and that did the trick.

I ended up applying 2 to 3 coats of paint on this project. Admittedly it was labor intensive to paint all the spools on the head- and footboard. For instance, I first needed to turn the headboard upside down, paint one side, then the other. Next I turned it right side up and painted both sides. I repeated the same process for the footboard. Then repeated again for the 2nd coat. The 3rd coat was applied only to areas as needed.


Once the painting was completed I sanded the entire bed for a smooth finish. I lightly distressed some parts of the spools, but was cautious not to over-do it so it would have a naturally worn finish. I applied heavier distressing to the rails as those appeared to naturally get more wear and tear through the years. Finally I hand waxed and buffed the bed for a durable finish. It would have been much faster to use a paint sprayer, but I think the hand painted look gives it more character.

Once I finally finished the bed it dawned on me that I hadn't actually assembled the bed before. Yikes! What if after all that work it horribly wobbly after it was assembled? Luckily it was quite sturdy once assembled, whew! Surprisingly sturdy especially considering the age; it doesn't budge one bit. I think that is a testament to the quality craftsmanship of yesteryear.

Jenny Lind Spool Bed.
Minimal light distressing on the spools.

Exterior of headboard.
I used flowers for the photo props. 
Why? Because I like flowers!
Lovely :-)

Inside of headboard.
The center spool is the one with the repair.

Exterior of footboard.


Heavier distressing on the rails.

Exterior photo where the rail meets the footboard.

Interior shot of where the rail meets the footboard.

Note the heavier distressing on the rails.

Bed rail.

A full set of slats!

The slats go in any order except for the one nearest the headboard.

There was a slight notch in this board so it would fit neatly under the hardware.
It took me forever to figure that out, so I went ahead and marked it with pencil.*

Ready for a new home!
The size of the bed by modern standards is full-size, but in the past it would have been called a "3/4" size.

Approximate overall dimensions: 77 3/4" long x 53 1/2" wide; headboard 46 1/2" high, footboard 41" high. Approximate interior dimensions are 74" long x 50 1/2" wide.

*Truth be told my husband figured that out. But it sounded better in the caption to say I figured it out. My caption, my blog, ha ha.


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