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I Forge Iron

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Coking, whether around the edge of a forge fire or a giant coke oven at a steel mill (old school, coke ovens, blast furnaces, and raw iron ore) drives off the "volatile" portions of the coal leaving only the carbon and the solid impurities (usually sand and silt which accumulated in the swamp along with the organic material.

Anvil, there is place in western Colorado where there is a naturally occurring deposit of coke, the only one I have ever heard of.  A later igneous dike cut a coal seam.  Of course, the coal nearest the intrusion was burned out but there is a "baked" zone on either side of the dike where the coal was converted to coke.  IIRC, it was mined at one time but is no longer in production.  I don't really recall exactly where it was but if I had to guess I would say somewhere around the edge of the San Juan Mountains.

I have wondered how good the coal from that mine near Cortez was.  OK, but not real good, I guess.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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The coal is from the King Coal Mine outside of Hesperus. Hesperus is half way between Durango and Cortez. There is a guy who buys from the mine and sells it. Its the only source now. He's open seasonally. 

Its a doable coking coal heavy in fines. So its pretty dirty. But it works and you cant beat the price. There was a mine at Trinidad,Co and one at Raton,NM. The metalurgists told me that the seam they mine at Raton extends all the way to Hesperus. 

Pretty interesting about the coke mine. It would be a great addition to my back yard.  

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It's one of the coals in the Mesa Verde Formation.  Some of them can be traced many miles.  It is indicative of BIG swamps back in the Cretaceous. 

I have always wondered if the Anasazi used any of the Mesa Verde Fm. coal, the outcrops are pretty common.  Some of the areas they were in were pretty wood poor.  However, I have never heard of any clinkers or evidence of coal burning being found by archaeologists.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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The whole lack of an iron age in the Americas is a puzzle to me. I dont remember the exact dates, but the Vikings were smelting iron on the north east coast pre 900,,, perhaps as early as 500-600ad.

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It wouldn't have been that early; Leif Eriksson didn't make it across the Atlantic until 1000 A.D. 

There is evidence of iron being smelted from bog ore at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. According to an article from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum:

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In seven separate digs between 1961 and 1968, archaeologists Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad found 15 kilograms of slag, which is thought to have produced about three kilograms of usable iron. However, analysis of the slag revealed that it would have been possible to extract considerably more iron from the ore. This suggested that Eriksson’s men were not particularly skilled compared to other metallurgists from the Viking Era.

[Full article at https://magazine.cim.org/en/in-search/a-tale-restored-from-the-slag-pile/]

It's quite possible that the Vinland/Newfoundland settlement was not intended for colonization, but to provide iron, pelts, and timber for the Viking settlements back in Greenland. This would at least partially explain not only why L'Anse Aux Meadows was never a permanent settlement, but also why Viking iron (both from there and from the newly discovered possible Viking smelting site in Point Rosee) never made it into the broader North American trading stream. As the CIM article notes:

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Found in glaciated regions across the globe, bog ore was an incredibly valuable natural resource for the Norse who used it to make tools, armour and weapons. It is for this reason that Thorfinn Karlsefni – an Icelandic explorer who led a subsequent journey to Newfoundland – refused to trade the precious metal with the Beothuk First Nation he encountered

With limited contact between the Vikings and the First Nations people -- especially given the comparatively short period of Viking presence in Canada -- it's scarcely surprising that smelting technology didn't bridge the gap to be adopted by the latter.

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This is a real casual interest to me, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I followed Lee Sauder and the smiths and archaeologists he worked with for a time. It seems a Canadian and a US university was involved. Better info on this can be found on his site. As I remember, they found smelting sites in Nova Scotia and built ovens modeled on these to reproduce iron from bog iron. I don't know if this came from them, or I made an assumption, but I am under the assumption that the Vikings smelted iron to make repairs on their ships and equipment, not necessarily for trade. This bit on iron in Nova Scotia only touches the surface of what he has done in his smelting journey. If you are interested, check him out.

I was close on the remembered date. 10th century is 900 AD. Definitely I was way off on the earlier dates I mentioned.

https://www.livescience.com/54439-three-possible-viking-outposts-discovered.html  This article gives a little more info.

My curiosity about the absence of iron in the Americas is just that. The process is pretty simple and Human Beings are innately curious critters. If the Vikings were smelting in Nova Scotia, it seems that the "locals" would have watched the process from afar, and been curious enough to try it out. Obviously this didn't happen. Lol, from this small opportunity, perhaps the fate of the history of the Americas hinged on this moment in time, and was truly "forged in iron". Just maybe it proves the old adage,,, Snooze ya lose.

If I wrote alternative history science fiction, I think I'd do one based on this "what if" 

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SLAG,

Just a little note concerning the Vikings and the L'Anse au Meadows Viking site.

That "settlement" is locate in the far north west peninsula of the province of Newfoundland.

Not Nova Scotia.

The Viking "settlement" remains were rediscovered in 1960.

It seems that the locals knew about it long before that date.

Pedantic  SLAG, 

Signing off for now.

Ouch!

It seems that Mr. JHCC has scooped me with a previous note. I should like to add to this thread. There were few domestic artifacts found at the site.

But there a was lot of items relating to ship carpentry and smithing. Many scientists think that the site was primarily used for ship repair. And for no longer than twenty to a hundred years.

 

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4 hours ago, anvil said:

If the Vikings were smelting in Nova Scotia, it seems that the "locals" would have watched the process from afar, and been curious enough to try it out.

One wonders what might have happened if any First Nations people observing such smelting had been part of those groups that had experience melting native copper out of its parent rocks and therefore would have been more ready to make the cognitive jump from "they're doing a strange thing with rocks and fire" to "Hey, that's another way to get metal!"

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absolutely. Imagine what might have been if when Chris Columbus "discovered America, He found a continent with a ~500 year iron tradition.

I suspect that the knowledge of copper making is the reason that iron smelting expanded so relatively  quickly from three basic eurasian and African places.

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I don't recall melting and casting with the North American indigenous peoples, there was so much native copper that could be worked.  Now in South America they did a lot of casting and even made use of depletion gilding.

Even the ironwork they did in NA seems to have been all cold work.  (Meteorites).

 

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Back on topic for a minute. George, as to your first post, I'll add that no matter the amount of sulfur it is pretty well removed during the coking process. With anthracite, it's removed as it burns right next to your iron. Thats why met/blacksmiths coal is the go to fuel, not anthracite.  

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I'm probably over simplifying but I think that the reason the Native American Old Copper Culture using the native copper from Michigan's Upper Peninsula never moved on to more sophisticated metallurgy is that the copper was found in a usable state with no smelting necessary.  While the Old World had native copper it wasn't as plentiful and people learned to extract it from ore with heat.  Some copper ores will "sweat" droplets of copper when heated in a fire.  So, there was a tradition of heating rocks to extract metal, copper, tin, or iron.  IIRC all the precious or base metals used in South America were derived from naturally occurring metals that did not need much, it any, smelting to be obtained in usable amounts.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Hmm metalpedia says " both British and French scientists started to consider the use of manganese in steelmaking, with patents granted in the U.K. in 1799 and 1808. In 1816, a German researcher noticed that manganese increased the hardness of iron, without reducing its malleability or toughness."    Mushet's use of spiegeleisen in Bessemer steel in 1860; perhaps Chipman patented a specific process using it.

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There is a native copper culture in Alaska and down the west coast. American indigenes didn't seem terribly interested in smelting and Europeans had been mining copper from the copper deposits around the Great Lakes so they could've learned from a more technologically advanced culture. Following is one of a number of articles. I don't recall the source or I'd cite it but a few years ago analysis of a few types, x-ray spectral or similar identified quite a bit of the copper used to feed the bronze age was Lake Superior copper. 

https://grahamhancock.com/wakefieldjs1/

The thing about Lake Superior copper is it runs 99.5% pure and can be forged as it comes from the ground. One of the ways it was posited as driving the bronze age is the copper from: Cyprus, England, the mid east, etc. contain easily identifiable impurities: silver, gold, etc. which are missing from much of bronze age bronze.

Neat stuff.

 Frosty The Lucky.

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12 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

perhaps Chipman patented a specific process using it.

Possibly, or figured out exactly what was going on with the sulfur compounds. I’ll go back and check. 

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Patents can be tricky; I remember that Watt used a planetary gear system for his steam engines as someone had patented the crank, (shown in medieval records as having been used by the 900's). I also remember being told that the circular saw blade had been invented by a Shaker woman because She had patented it; unfortunately it was in use a couple centuries earlier in the lowlands.   Of course there is the Bessemer-Kelly patent feud over the "Bessemer" process....

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The reason that a person could get a patent issued for an old concept, is interesting. Such a patent was good law in England of the eighteenth century and years previously.

All this because patents could be issued.

The Statute of Monopolies, (1624) allowed the courts to issue a patent for a concept that was novel, and also for a concept that " Instructed the English people in a new industry". "that is one that was used elsewhere outside of England".

SLAG.

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Patent law is complex enough that a person has to take another year or two of education after graduating from law school (in the USA anyway).  It is basically a legal graduate degree.  Also, many patent attorneys have technical undergraduate degrees in areas such as engineering, chemistry, etc..  This is why (amongst other things) I respect Slag.  He is a patent attorney while I am just a simple country lawyer.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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4 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

I also remember being told that the circular saw blade had been invented by a Shaker woman because She had patented it

Tabitha Babbitt* of the Harvard Shaker Village did NOT patent the circular saw blade. Shaker practice varied somewhat with regard to patents, but the Shakers generally didn't patent inventions that they believed were better left as what we now might term "open source". Regardless, there's certainly plenty of evidence of circular sawblades being used even as far back as the Indus Valley civilization!

* No relation to Isaac Babbitt, inventor of Babbitt metal.

4 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Of course there is the Bessemer-Kelly patent feud over the "Bessemer" process....

Not to mention the Hall-Heroult process.

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