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Posted by / 27-Nov-2017 13:05

The tools of the trade were simple: forge, anvil, hammer and iron at the most. To begin with, the iron ore was heated to melting point until it formed a dense spongy mass within the forge.

This would then be poured into moulds to cool into square rods, with the metal produced given the title of ‘wrought iron’.

See also, the following page for images of a large variety of date nails: The image shows a date nail (left) with a railroad spike (right) for comparison.

To view a huge variety of the numbers stamped on the heads of date nails, see the excellent web sites above.

We have to guess the century, but that's easy since they were used for than a century. Well, they aren't meant to hold anything, only to leave a lasting record of when a new railroad tie was laid. Railway companies needed a record of when ties were put in, so they'd be alert to replacing them while they were still safe. Nails appeared in telephone poles and other wood products. Sometimes they specified a length or weight of a tie instead of a date.

Using a far more honest method, many families began setting up small sites for nail manufacture within their homes, either by the fireplace or in the back yard.

People mainly use them for historical renovations or heavy-duty jobs, a far cry from their mass Birmingham manufacture in the 1860’s.

The aforementioned decline in the creation of cut nails was due to the penultimate nail in the evolution cycle- the renowned wire nail that we know and love today.

Once reduced to ash, nearby villagers would flock to the site as vultures would to carrion.

They would eagerly pick out the small treasures before returning home, pockets filled, the iron still hot.

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A reheating process would follow, before the blacksmith cut off a nail length and hammered all four sides of the softened end to form a point- the driving end of the nail.

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