Blacksmiths in the 18th Century

Blacksmiths in the 18th Century


Blacksmith at Mission San Luis de Apalachee

Excerpt from Blacksmithing of the 18th Century, from Prickett’s Fort

“The word “blacksmith” refers to iron, which was known as the black metal, and smith, meaning a smitter of metal (as in tinsmith or silversmith). The blacksmith was traditionally held in high esteem, because all trades known to mankind were dependent on the blacksmith. Most blacksmiths were toolmakers. They repaired things for people in the neighborhood and had to know how to work with different metals. In the 18th and 19th century, there were four types of tools. Tools for the farmer were axes, plow points, hoes, shovels, etc. Tools for women included cooking, sewing, and household tools. Tools for hunting and warfare were knives, tomahawks, gun parts, etc. Tools for industry and other trades were needed, including those for the blacksmith himself. Very few blacksmiths made things like railing or iron balconies or gates, except in bigger cities like Williamsburg, Boston, and Philadelphia.”

Blacksmiths of the 21st Century

The blacksmith shown in this photo worked at the Mission San Luis de Apalachee in Tallahassee, Florida. In a conversation with him, he talked about all of the repair work a blacksmith of 1703 would have done at the Mission. Their job was to fix or create anything made of metal except for guns; this work would have been done by a gunsmith.

Other blacksmiths we have encountered work at Old Town, San Diego, Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado, and at Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Having had the opportunity to work on a simple metal object I can attest to the need for great arm muscles.

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