According to the Wrought Iron Furniture blog, determining an iron bed's age involves inspecting the various vintage designs and looking for the manufacturer's stamp or trademark and date. The site further advises to examine bed styles in antique reference books. Vintage iron beds are featured in Victorian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs.
When calculating the date of a vintage iron bed, examine how the bed was constructed. Typically, antique beds are built into the bed's frame and are made up of a headboard, side rails and footboard. Reproductions usually feature hardware brackets and a separate frame. According to the Wrought Iron Furniture blog, the size of a Victorian bed is usually the equivalent of today's king-sized bed.
The eBay Buying Guide lists two types of iron bed frames. A cast iron frame is made by pouring molten iron into a mold. The metal features a high carbon content that creates a smooth surface when the bed is cast. Wrought iron, on the other hand, is created by either rolling molten iron or forging it. This form of iron features a low carbon content and therefore produces a rougher exterior. Additionally, replica wrought iron beds are generally covered with a patina or painted black.