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I Forge Iron

My Experiences with Philip Simmons

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In 1985, having read John Vlach's account of Philip Simmons the Charleston Blacksmith, and while on vacation with my wife in the south we went to Charleston, SC to see and photograph(not a trivial task) the ironwork of that famous city.
I had Vlach's book with me as a reference but on a whim I said to my wife do you think we could meet Philip Simmons. We found his address and went to the house and his wife most graciously sent us to the small shed in the backyard. There was Philip and a couple helpers. He immediately focused on Marj and I and asked us what he could do for us. I explained that I was beginning in black smithing and wanted to meet him.
What followed was amazing. He carried us through his beginnings and talked about many of his projects and his mentor Peter Simmons. He even showed Peter Simmon's worn out anvil on his scrap pile. His shop was more primitive than any of us smiths today can imagine.
A fire pot built in a cutoff barrel with fire clay and a swayback anvil and a oxy-acytylene outfit laying in a trailer.
He took us to a small office and showed us drawings of some panels for the Charleston airport.
This was a new project and he was most excited about it.
Philips signed my copy of John Vlachs book (see the attachment).
Later that day Marj and I went downtown and in a bookstore found several old copies of "The Early IronWork of Charleston" by Allen Delas 1941.
We went back to Philip's house and I showed him the book. He said he had never seen it before so I gave him a copy. To my surprise he said "please sign it for me".
A great man.


Edited by twcoffey
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