Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Medieval Craftsman: Goldsmiths

"The goldsmith should have a furnace with a hole at the top so that the smoke can get out. One hand should govern the bellows with light pressure and with the greatest care so that the air pressed through the nozzle may blow upon the coals and feed the fire. Let him have an anvil of extreme hardness on which the iron or gold may be laid and softened and may take the required form. They can be stretched and pulled with the tongs and the hammer. There should also be a hammer for making gold leaf, as well as sheets of silver, tin, brass, iron, or copper. The goldsmith must have a very sharp chisel with which he can engrave figures of many kinds on amber, hard stone, marble, emerald, sapphire or pearl. He should have a touchstone for testing, and one for distinguishing steel from iron. He must also have a rabbit's foot for smoothing, polishing and wiping the surface of gold and silver. The small particles of metal should be collected in a leather apron. He must have small pottery vessels and cruets, and a toothed saw and file for gold as well as gold and silver wire with which broken objects can be mended or properly constructed. He must also be as skilled in engraving as well as in bas relief, in casting as well as in hammering. His apprentice must have a waxed table, or one covered with clay, for portraying little flowers and drawing in various ways. He must know how to distinguish pure gold from latten and copper, lest he buy latten for pure gold. For it is difficult to escape the wiliness of the fraudulent merchant."

Alexander of Neckham, 12th century
(quoted in Medieval Craftsmen: Goldsmiths)

1 comment:

TeriB said...

What a great quote! And look how far we've come---can you imagine actually working with bellows and all that? Now we light a torch and hold the flame EXACTLY where we want it! Great way to see how fortunate we are! Thanks for sharing. Teri
http://www.sandtcreations.com/wordpress