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I found these things metal detecting.  I came here to ask you guys to have a look at the nails and give me your thoughts on wheather or not they are hand made. I heard that square nails were machine made all through the 18th century. These nails however are are so dissimilar in size and shape that I think that they might have been hand made my some one who was a builder but not a skilled blacksmith.

Also, does anyone have any idea what the iron diamond with 4 holes is? 

thanks for the help. I have a feeling this stuff is from the 1850-1860's

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Possibly.

If they were hand made they would be using a nail header per size stock they were using so unlikely just someone making random size shape nails at a go,  but more likely someone Using random nails in building.

Welcome, we also have a metaldetecting thread here in the Everything else section I believe. I'm sure someone will probably be along that knows their nails better.

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Yup, all made by blacksmiths, in a sense, though they may have been just nail makers,perhaps different ones. Regardless they used 3 blacksmith treatments,

Drawing, upsetting and hot cutting. F.Y.I  machine made (cut) nails had four sides at that time too. 

At the time those nails were made, the onwner would have burned the house down to keep the nails 

 

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46 minutes ago, arftist said:

At the time those nails were made, the onwner would have burned the house down to keep the nails 

A common myth, but not historically substantiated. Take a look at THIS ARTICLE , which quotes the master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg on the subject. 

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58 minutes ago, jeremy k said:

How do you determine these are from the narrow timeline of 1850-1860?

Nails of all sizes, and possibly an axel type re-enforcement plate?

I have an old plat map from 1870 showing the farm property and structure/barn. People started showing up in the county in the 1850's so I guessing it is in that range

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38 minutes ago, JHCC said:

A common myth, but not historically substantiated. Take a look at THIS ARTICLE , which quotes the master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg on the subject. 

I would venture that they wouldn't make a law against it if it never occurred.

Eric Sloane could be wrong I suppose but the real value wasn't even the nails themselves but the iron they were made from. 

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When that law was passed in 1649, that may very well have been true.  By the time that settlers arrived in Metal detectors‘s area two hundred years later, I suspect that the rarity of iron was much less of an issue. 

While the practice may have been enough of an issue in mid-17th-century Virginia to justify passing a law against it, the fact that no such laws were passed in other places or at other times would indicate that it was neither common nor frequent nor widespread, Sloane’s uncritical mythologizing notwithstanding. 

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2 hours ago, Metal detector said:

I have a feeling this stuff is from the 1850-1860's

FYI, it's hard to be sure from the photo, but these look like what are sometimes called "Type B" nails: cut nails that were mechanically headed, rather than headed by hand. This type came into use around 1810 and was quite common until the invention of the wire nail about eighty years later.

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Thank for the help everyone,  The machine cut but hand headed explanation seems plausible in this situation. Every nail head is irregular and mushroom shaped.  The reason why I am interested in nails is because I think these could have been used by the early pioneers of this state. Thanks again

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The irregularity may be from hand heading, but could just as easily be from corrosion. It’s what the archaeologists call “plausible, but not diagnostic”. I wouldn’t rush to conclusions on this, especially if that’s something you want to be true. 

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Professor Thomas D. Visser, (of the U, of Vermont), explains succinctly the difference between the first machine fashioned cut nails. Namely type A and the latter type B cut nails.

He also explains how to tell one cut nail type from the other.

Let me quote him, (as I cannot do a better job),

"Between the 1790s and the early 1800s, various machines were invented in the United States for making nails from bars of iron. The earliest machines sheared nails off the iron bar like a guillotine. The taper of the shank was produced by wiggling the bar from side to side with every stroke. These are known as type A cut nails. At first, the heads were typically made by hand as before, but soon separate mechanical nail heading machines were developed that pounded a head on the end of each nail. This type of nail was made until the 1820s.

By the 1810s, however, a more effective design for a nail making machine was developed; it flipped the iron bar over after each stroke. With the cutter set at an angle, every nail was sheared off to a taper. With the resulting nails thus all oriented in the same direction, it became possible for the same machine to automatically grip each nail and form a head in a continuous mechanical operation. Nails made by this method are known as type B nails.

Cutting the nails leaves a small burr along the edge as the metal is sheared. By carefully examining the edges for evidence of these burrs, it is possible to distinguish between the earlier type A nails and the later type B nails. Type A nails have burrs on the diagonally opposite edges, while the type B nails have both burrs on the same side because the metal was flipped for each stroke." 

His one page article on this subject can be read here,

https://www.uvm.edu/~histpres/203/nails.html

That article displays drawings of the various nails. Check it out.

Cut nails have a four time greater holding strength than wire nails. They are still used for flooring nails, masonry nails, and those for boats. But they cost more.

The spiral shaped cut nails have a holding power that approaches that of cut nails. (I think they were invented in the early 1960's, but I'll have to confirm that. The patent's validity was hammered out in the celebrated Sivaco wire patent case)

I have been interested in the history of nail manufacture since I was a young boy.

I am amazed that several folks, on this site, have a similar interest.

SLAG.

I was 'taught' that the first nail making machine was invented by Mr. Ezekial Reed. I have just confirmed this. He invented the machine in the 1790's.

check this reference,

http://www.historicfloorco.com/2015/06/the-history-of-square-nails-in-america/

Add that factoid Wikipedia.

 

 

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I neglected to discuss the difference between completely hand forged nails and the latter-fashioned cut nails.

A major difference is that hand forged nails usually have a tapered square shaft with a square cross section. Usually the hand forged head of such nails was squarish too. But not always.

Cut nails usually have a rectangular cross section and head. The majority of such nails taper in one plane, and not two  ... Most of the machines used flat iron sheet, and sheared it to make the nails.

SLAG.

Just found this, Ezekial Reed patented his nail making machine in 1786. (in the U.S.A.)

Thomas Clifford patented his machine, in the U.K., in 1790

The Ardox spiral concrete nail was invented by metallurgist Allan Dove in 1954. But came into use in the early 1960's. He worked for Stelco Canada dominion works in Lachine Quebec. (Montreal).

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Frosty,

About 3 years ago, or so, ago someone on this site posted a, u.r.l. showing a nail making factory. The machinery is/was over a hundred years old. The video showed the whole process of that manufacture. Where is it? I don't remember. Give it a brief search, And let know if you find it. I would like to see it again. It probably was on You tube.

Regards Kiddo!

SLAG.

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