Metalworking

A large number of the technical processes in use at present are virtually identical as those employed in ancient times.

During the colonial period, artisans in America have worked with a plethora of metals, primarily aluminum, iron, brass, copper, pewter, and silver, for their tools and jewelry.

Throughout the colonial period, the designations of silversmith and goldsmith were interchangeable.

While gold and silver-working skills were learned through seven-year apprenticeships in England, city ordinances in New York City, and Boston set down that no individual could start a shop who was not of age and had not served the apprenticeship period.

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As a result, no metalworking guilds were formed in the colonies. Nevertheless, working silver came from melted coins at the time and was assayed to the sterling standard.

Native American metalwork held a massive attraction for European empires looking to stake claims in the American New World.

Although the mastery and technical feats of Native American metalwork only gained systematic scientific inquiries recently, the attraction of Andean and Mesoamerican precious metals has resulted in the plundering of significant amounts of these metals.

More often than not, these metals were used in the form of ornaments and jewelry, which were used both for funerary and ceremonial functions.

Silver and goldsmithing in America in the colonial period was perhaps less derivative compared to England and the rest of Europe. It was initially brought to New England in North America by craftsmen from England.

The most critical metalwork locations in this period were located in Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Newport, and Boston. Unlike other types of silvers, North American colonial silver was incredibly popular for its graceful forms and simplicity adapted or copied from the English silver of the period.

On the other hand, American nations like Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico had silvers, which also showed resemblance to European silvers.

However, they were mostly a combination of Iberian forms and designs with indigenous influences that date back to pre-Hispanic times.

Metalworking and mining were also the primary aspects of the economy of colonial Mexico. Most of the significance was on mining of tin, platinum, lead, iron, copper, silver, and gold, which were shipped to Spain.

The majority of the colonial metalwork of Mexico copied the Gothic and Renaissance style of Spain as well.

Silver also became more critical over the colonial period following the start of trade with Asia in the 17th century.

America’s abundance silver an essential form of currency and silver working guilds in countries like Mexico gained power and prestige mostly in the development of liturgical items, crosses, religious medallions, silverware, and coins.

Fun and Interesting Facts about the Metalwork in Colonial America

  • A process known as brazing was used in Colonial America for joining metals. The process typically begins by heating some cast of iron.
  • The saw is considered the most complicated tools in manufacturing during the colonial period. It was usually built with melted copper and filler metal.
  • Metalworkers build multiple types of saws in the colonial period. Among these include the ripsaws, pitsaws, compass saws, and framed saws.
  • Framed saws usually had long thinner blades on the inside of the frames, while compass saws displayed narrow ends for accurate drilling of holes.
  • In the colonial times, the saws built by metalworkers were used for cutting pieces of wood and log.
  • The techniques of brazing and welding have evolved since the colonial with the advances of technology. These technological advancements included the availability to use many unique metals for different circumstances.
  • The working of metals during the colonial period was heavily monitored or even banned for several reasons, which include the protection of Spanish metal guilds.
  • Moldings of jewelry in the colonial period were made by drawing silver strips across shaped openings.

Q & A

What was the most complicated manufacturing tool of the colonial period?
The most complicated manufacturing tool of the colonial period was the saw.

What are the popular metals of the colonial period?
The popular metals of the colonial period include aluminum, iron, brass, copper, pewter, and silver.

Where did colonial Americans use saws?
Colonial Americans used saws for cutting logs and pieces of wood.

Why are North American colonial silvers so popular?
North American colonial silvers were so popular because it showed resemblance to English silver of the period.

Where are the essential metalwork places of this period?
The most critical metalwork places of the colonial period were situated in Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Newport, and Boston.