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I Forge Iron

Gnarly old wrought iron hammer (pic heavy)


Benona  blacksmith

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Found this at an old barn that a guy sells antiques out of. Paid $2 USD. I plan on making a handle for it and trying to "age" the handle so it looks roughly the same time period and donating it to a local "museum" that has all kinds of local history items and the have a really cool traders tent this would fit right in with the other displays.

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The thought did cross my mind but I bought a pivoting post vise jaw that has a nice wrought iron section that would be good for a hammer and I think I'm going to do that and leave this the way it is. It is a really cool piece and it is a bit light for doing any real forging. Its probably a little over a pound and a 1/4.

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It wouldn't have been used looking like that at the time it would have been used.

One problem I have with historical reenactment groups is getting folks to realize that items they make should look "current" rather than like the ones that have aged centuries before they get into museums.  Dominic Tweddle once gave a presentation on the York Archeological Trust's work on the Goldsmiths house and mentioned commissioning all the items to look current to the time---except for one item that was listed as being inherited and so it was made to look about a generation older.

I would suggest reproducing it as it would have looked at that time and then giving the original in as found condition with the reproduction of what it would have looked like when it was being used.

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NO. Leave it as it is as an original artifact and don't fake a handle for it. If you want to make it look like it was when that smithy was active make one!

I have several steeled WI hammers that I use; but they look like old tools that I am still using and get the same care as my other tools that are not so old.

I guess it comes down to: are you trying to show what a 19th? century smithy *would* have looked like in the 19th century. Or what a 19th? century smithy would look like in 2019? (Or what an earlier smithy that has been in continuous use looks like now...)

An example of good museum practice is where dinosaur skeletons are shown with the "not found" parts duplicated in a different colour to show what is real and what is guessed at.  So I am ok with duplicating a handle styled form when that hammer was originally made/used but leave it "new".  Of course this is just my opinion.

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Could that have originally been a pick with the "points" cut off?  The shape just screams to me that it was originally more like a 2 ended rock pick (they used to have welded steel tips) rather than hammer.

But it's not in my hands to actually look closely at...

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That's a possibility Kozzy, it's also possible the smith who made it used the same eye drifts for all his double jacks, pick, sledge, spike driver, etc. and why not make the handles smaller for single jacks, no reason to have a special eye drift. Hmmm?

Heck a kid in the community with a froe and mallet could make a decent wage splitting handle blanks. Refined handles draw shaved and sanded would of course be much higher price. Probably come with a couple wedges too. 

Frankly that artifact is badly weathered the only thing forging on it could do is make it another piece of stock. It's history would die on your anvil.

Donate that one and make a replica to display with it. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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