Friday, 1 June 2012

Nails Found Mudlarking on the Thames

When I got home I laid out the bunch of nails,  I had this time bothered to pick up from the Thames foreshore, I was touched by their quirkiness and imperfect beauty.

Nails found Mudlarking on the Thames 
The pointy ones will have been made between 1700-1800. Each one will have been handmade by nailers or blacksmiths. Heating an iron rod, they would achieve the point by hammering each  side. The nail was then  inserted into an anvil or nail header and the top hammered into a head. ‘Roseheads’ a shallow tent like head with 4 panels were the most common, others were adorned with broad butterfly heads or  L heads.

Handmade Nail with Rosehead found Mudlarking on the Thames 
Nail making machines were  invented in the US at the end of the 18th century. Nails with no point, but a tapered sawn off end are not handmade, instead made in one of these machines.

By the first part of the 20th century most nails were made from steel and the process was fully mechanised. A more detailed description can be found at history of nails

As my good friend Maddy says, we tend to  take everything for granted, never considering how they are made, so removed from their manufacture. Gazing at these small objects, for a moment, offsets this 21st century mentality.

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