Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”
The use of iron, the most abundant metal on earth, has been dated as far back as 3500 BC. The earliest discoveries indicates the use of iron in weaponry. As the raw material became more abundant and the ability to fashion it into useful items better understood, iron use became utilitarian. Useful and necessary items were fashioned by hand with the use of a forge, hammer, anvil, and tongs. A skilled blacksmith resided in every village, his talents a necessity. Utensils, locks, hardware, weapons… all other craftsmen depended on the blacksmiths capabilities for their needed tools. So much so, that blacksmiths were considered master craftsmen, held in awe by men and at times given a god status. The blacksmiths role was diverse as most served as the village locksmith, swordsmith, and farrier and were often called upon to perform other duties including that of doctor and dentist.
From the 16th century onward, wrought iron became highly ornate. Blacksmiths were not just men of sheer brute strength, as often depicted. They were true artists who’s imagination and visualization rivaled that of many of the great painters and sculpters of their time. The desire to beautify, even the most humble objects, can be seen in highly ornate historical artifacts such as gates, locks, hinges and doorknobs.
The industrial revolution saw the dramatic halting of smithing as a viable occupation. Wrought iron was replaced by cast iron because of lower cost. Steel was eventually used in place of iron for the mass production of weapons, tools, and utensils. Almost all of the forged ironwork that we see produced today, often described as wrought iron, is actually steel. Perhaps this why we are so excited when we stumble upon a truckload, or two, or three, of magnificent antique ironwork!
The load of wrought iron that we received this week is the most impressive collection that we have ever had! Several of the pieces can currently be seen on our New Arrivals page with many more to come. Stop by our showroom and browse our outdoor iron lot to shop our latest finds! We are open Tuesday – Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Written By: Lisa Jones