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PA Decorated Swage Block


Pennsylvania Decorated Artist Blacksmiths Swage Block:

Folk art or advertising piece? This is a beautifully designed pattern with applique details. It is well proportioned and has many useful shapes. The only fault I find in the design is the closeness of the hemispherical depressions. However, this is a minor fault in a very artfully made block.

The flat back with porosity and shrinks indicates that this block was cast in an open faced mold. This was a primitive process where the pattern was rammed up in the casting floor sand. Iron filled the mold from a long runner directly from the cupola. The long flat side was cut for the feed runner.

The decorations include a bellows, a blacksmiths leg vice, tongs and two other unidentified devices. One might be a hammer but the shape at the upper left is a complete mystery. But the biggest mystery is why the decorations? A gift, an advertising piece, art for art's sake?

Plain and Tapered Edge Grooves

The edge grooves are two types. Smooth half rounds and tapered half rounds. More variety in such a small block.

Photos courtesy of John Catchings, Catchings Collection.

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