History Of The Blacksmith
Blacksmithing is an ancient craft, known to be at least 6,000 years old.
In ancient times the blacksmith attained an almost mystical respect as only he worked with what were believed to be the four elements - fire, air, earth and water. His basic material, iron came from the earth, his forge contained the fire, his bellows controlled the air, and water cooled the iron and tempered the hot steel.
In less mystical times, the smith was no less respected by his fellow man. Before performing the smallest of tasks, the other trades people, for examine the carpenter, wagon maker or ship builder, first had to go to the blacksmith to get their saws, hammers, chisels, nails and other tools of their trades. The surgeon depended on the smith for his scalpels and other instruments, as did the soldier for his swords, spears and armor. No less dependent was the homemaker, who, from the earliest times until the mid nineteenth century cooked over and open fire or in a fireplace which required andirons, shovels, pokers, tongs, cranes, trivets, ladles and forks. Hand forged candle stands and lighting fixtures provided the lighting for the home.
The blacksmith, once the most indispensable artisan in the community, actually contributed to his own demise by developing the giant machines of industry used to mass produce the tools and implements that were once handcrafted one at a time. For example, John Deer was a blacksmith and Richard Sears, founder of Sears Roebuck & Co., was the son of a blacksmith. Merchandising giants like Sears and Eatons drove thousands out of the blacksmithing trade.