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(this page contains the substance of an article entitled 'Traditional Cut Nails - worth preserving?' written in May 2002 at the request of, and for inclusion in, the RICS Building Conservation Journal)For nail making, iron ore was heated with carbon to form a dense spongy mass of metal which was then fashioned into the shape of square rods and left to cool. After re-heating the rod in a forge, the blacksmith would cut off a nail length and hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point.

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Usually wire nails are ascribed an 1850s beginning date, but that date is both too early and too late.

While some wire nails were produced in 1819, no significant quantities were produced in the United States until the mid-1880s.

It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared, but that tended really to automate much of the blacksmith's job.

The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.

The commonly cited sources used by archaeologists for dating nails have been rendered outdated by later research.

Machine cut and headed nails date from 1815 onwards, while wire nails date from 1819 onward.The house was renovated in 1995, and carpenters Jim and Hank Carder saved the nails and made the above display.The woodwork in the Victorian-style [A] house was intricate.It was named as such for HM Queen Victoria of England who reigned from 1836 - 1901. Hand-forged nails were the first manufactured nails, and they date back to Biblical times....[T]he house's style is called Italianate which ran from roughly the 1840's though about the turn of the century." From Jeremiah B. As people first used hewn beams, timbers, planks, and whole logs to build with, the early hand-made nails were spikes.Historical archaeologists need to avoid the simplistic use of invention dates and patent dates and focus instead on the mass-production dates.

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