Monday, August 2, 2010

Nostalgia For The Work--Vintage Photos and Daguerreotypes Part 1

A Cooper. Mid 19th c.

I thought it would be interesting to share some of the nostalgic woodworking (and related) imagery that I've discovered over the past year in various places through the internet. Several public libraries around the US now host online digital image galleries, and there are thousands of images from the past century and a half that are free to view and download. I have a fair number of these images, so as to not overwhelm the viewer I'll be posting a few at a time. At the end of the series, I'll post links for my sources. This doesn't apply so much to the following images, but one thing I like to do is look closely at the backgrounds of the images--the stuff that's going on besides or behind the main subject. You can discover quite a bit about what's going on in the photos this way.

These dagguereotypes are from the 1840's and beyond.

Man with chisel and mallet.

Man with hammer, plane, saw and other tools.

Stone carver



  1. Interesting hats and outfits. They don't look completely comfortable sitting before the camera!

  2. Looks like proper attire to me. The exposures could be up to 2 or 3 minutes, so they usually had their head in a clamp and could not smile.


  3. The blacksmith is actually a farrier; his job is to fit shoes to horses, and likely he travels, which is why he's got a light stake and not a heavy anvil; he might even travel with all his tools on his back. After the industrial revolution hit, blacksmiths were driven from general ironwork into farrier work, which is why they are so often depicted as shoeing horses.
    Great website! As a builder myself, I really appreciate it when instrument bulders talk with love of what they do, and not hype.

  4. I was very interested to look at the photographs of Damascene carpenters in the nineteenth century. I have recently written an article based on descriptions of the activities of woodworkers in the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century based on an Arabic dictionary of the crafts of Damascus. I would be most grateful for any information you may have about the source of these photographs.

  5. Marcus, check my last post in this series. I have sources listed at the end.

  6. Jameel,thanks for that. I have been finding some interesting material on the sites you mentioned.


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