Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Ringing of the anvil


Recommended Posts

Since this web site is accessed around the world I have a qeustion of the tradition of "ringing the anvil" in memorial of someone who has passed away. is there a certain number of times the anvil is struck?
or what is the story of the tradition in general.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


My understanding is that you "ring" the anvil once for each year of the life of the person who has passed. IN other words if he/she passed at the age of 80 then you would ring the anvil 80 times.

I attended the 'mini conference' at the Lee Bothers shop a few weeks ago and they had a "ringing of the anvil" for Verl Underwood, one of the original founders of the NTxBA IronFest. The way we did it was everyone filled by, took the hammer and tapped the horn one time. If we did it for each year of his life we would still be there ringing the anvil. :lol: I thought it was a very reverent time. We were instructed that the ringing is NOT 'see how hard you can hit the anvil' but it was paying respect to the one that has gone one in a reverent manner, tapping the anvil. This was the first time I have done this in a public venue. When I have done this in the past in my own shop I do it with bowed head and tap the anvil 3 times, allowing the ring to dissapate before striking the next. I'm sure there are many ways but this seems to me more meaningful...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone have any historical references they could quote on this tradition or is this a product of our modern society? I've been a full time smith for over 30 years and have shelves full of books but I don't recall hearing of this before. I doubt that historically a bunch of people (especially other smiths because there weren't many in an area) would get together to pound an anvil in memory of a blacksmith. Not that there is anything wrong with the practice but if it is other than a recent tradition I would be interested in how and where it started. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

there is no mention of anvil ringing ,in the records of the worshipfull company of blacksmiths ,that i can find ,and having been to funerals of blacksmiths with other blacksmiths present no mention of anvil ringing was ever made ,perhaps the oposite whilst stood with a group in the early 60s of a recently decesed blacksmiths, shop a young lad picked up a pick sharpning hammer on the anvil and my father told him to not strike the anvil ,let it stay quiet he was told ,could be they just wanted to talk ,or reverance for the old smith ,i have no idea, the only thing i am farirly shure of anvil ringing wasnt a custom ,there were enough men there that day for at least one to have known ,and that occassion was ideal if it had been.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this is another artifact of the internet, like the story of Yankees breaking horns off anvils.

IIRC, this was first suggested for Francis Whitaker about a decade ago on the old KeeneJunk forum. Then it was repeated for Bill Moran, etc, and spread from there.

How long do we have to do something before it becomes "traditional" anyway?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here in America most churches do not have a tolling bell and as the ringing of an anvil is often compared to the sound of a bell...

Predates the death of St Francis though as I recall doing it around 30 years ago for a friend.

I only take offense when the word tradition is used to try to say something is a widespread and *old* thing when it may only be localized to a country or two and be around 100 years old---the old "My grandpa did it that way and so everyone back into the dawn of time *MUST* have done it that way!"

New folk who don't know much about the craft can get misled that way. I've noticed that a lot of my new students *want* there to be *one* *right* *way* for everything and are a bit lost when you tell them there is a lot of ways to get the same result in smithing and you should choose the one most convenient to you! Practical Blacksmithing", Richardson is a great example of this as it's full of smiths writing in and saying that they had a "better way" to do stuff---sometimes in reference to a previous published "better way".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...