Founded by chimney sweep Terry Polis in 1979, Pennsylvania Firebacks, Inc., is about to mark the 40th Anniversary of its revitalization of the art form of the cast-iron Fireback.
When the turn to alternative energy emerged in the late 1970’s, as an artist, I had the pleasure of creating graphics and advertisements for my friend Terry and his then new sweeping business. At the time I lived in a two hundred year old farmhouse with nine fireplaces, in the middle of an arboretum, and an oil crisis. Needless to say Terry was a cherished client.
In 1979 I had the pleasure of partnering with Terry in revitalizing the forgotten art form of the Fireback by sculpting the first American designs in modern times. That year I designed and sculpted the Franklin Sun, and Great Oak (at that time called the Green Tree), Firebacks.
While still sculpting and making patterns of these first new Firebacks, the first advertisements for Pennsylvania Firebacks had to rely on line art drawings of the designs. These first advertisements appeared in the November 1979 issues of the Smithsonian, Natural History, House and Garden and a few other magazines. Subsequant advertisements in these magazines featured photographs of the newly cast Firebacks.
In 1981 the North Star Fireback, and Field of Stars Firebacks were introduced. Also that year the Franklin Sun Fireback was modified to its present form and work on the American Eagle and others begun.
Still hand cast with the finest materials by skilled foundry workers in Pennsylvania, we are honored by the public reception and customer loyalty we have received from the debut of our first advertisements to this day.
J. Del Conner,
In late 2016 Pennsylvania Firebacks was commissioned by The Museum of the American Revolution to travel to The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to make a reproduction of their 1778 Liberty Or Death Fireback.
Artist J. Del Conner made a rubber mold of this historic fireback in Winston-Salem under the watchful eye of the museum’s curator. Capturing every minuet detail of the original fireback in the mold, this was then used to make the pattern used in casting the iron reproduction. With its opening on April 19, 2017, The Museum of the American Revolution is the first museum dedicated to telling the entire story of this struggle and features many important original artifacts with interactive displays that connect visitors to the historic events of our nations founding.
Pouring the rubber mold
Lifting the rubber mold
Rubber mold and plastic pattern
Mounted with the compelling story of the making of the Liberty Or Death Fireback in 1778, the reproduction made by Pennsylvania Firebacks is today one of the “Please Touch” exhibits in Philadelphia’s newest museum.
Cast Iron Liberty or Death Fireback
Also on display in the Museum of the American Revolution is Pennsylvania Firebacks reproduction of the Eagle and Shield Fireback from the Winterthur Museum collection in Delaware.
Pennsylvania Firebacks reproduction of the Eagle and Shield Fireback
Pennsylvania Fireback is proud to have our works featured in the exhibits of The Museum of the American Revolution and hope you will plan a visit to this exciting addition to Historic Philadelphia.
To mark the Bicentennial of his great, great, great grandfather Dr. Philip Syng Physick’s introduction of artificial carbonated water to America in 1807, J. Del Conner with the old family recipe founded Dr. Physick Soda Company in 2007. A very popular item in the Historic District of Philadelphia, due to a $.015 per ounce tax imposed by the city this soda is struggling to keep its retail customers.
The Philadelphia Inquirer featured this company and its challenges in a recent article:
For more about America’s First Soda visit: www.DrPhysick.com