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Cutting tools

introduction

One of the most typical forms of work associated with the Mugello is the production of ferri taglienti (cutting irons) in Scarperia. In this small town, a "fragment of Firenze" amidst the hills and ridges of the country, it is still today possible to find some of the ancient shops and workshops of the traditional coltellinai (cutlers) in the town centre streets. There has recently been a certain amount of modernisation in the working techniques used to make these finely-worked and well-known products, but there are still workshops that jealously preserve their old equipment and some particularly prized pieces dating back centuries.
The history of the cutlers in Scarperia is at least five centuries old, and in fact these craftsmen originally supplied arms for a vast region. Over the centuries there have been a succession of phases of significant growth followed by sudden collapses, periods where production was at a peak followed by other moments where it was at a bare minimum. The quality of the work, however, has remained consistently high.

As long ago as 1538, the need to provide a degree of regulation amongst this category of workers led to the drawing up of a special statute for the cutlers, the aim of which was to organise the iron-working craftsmen into a kind of professional order with rigid codes of behaviour and product quality guarantees. In this period, trademarks were established in Firenze for the crafts belonging to this order - the corazzai (armourers), the chiavaioli (keysmiths), the ferraioli (iron-workers), the calderai (pot-makers), the fabbri (blacksmiths). From the special seals, it is possible to see the high proportion of craftsmen from the Mugello, particularly from Scarperia, working between the 14th and the 17th century.

Translated by Jeremy Carden
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati


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