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Iron Copper and Brass


In the 14th century, metalworking artisans in Firenze were grouped into various corporations:
the Guild of Sword-makers and Armourers, which produced cutting arms; the Guild of Key-smiths and Pot-makers, which made "keys, keyholes, bolts, spikes, hinges, hooks, nails, chains, trivets, tongs, shovels, lamps, ladles, iron rings, and any other old or new piece of ironmongery…"; the Guild of Blacksmiths, which included those who worked iron for various uses - "ploughshares, sledgehammers, spades, hatchets, axes, saws, ironyards, gimlets, hammers, files, pintles, shovels, chains, and similar tools…"; the Guild of Buckle-makers, whose members produced buckles and clips.

The Guild of Blacksmiths was the richest, and some of its members were real artists in wrought iron work.
In 15th century Firenze, but also in the Mugello and the Val di Sieve, it was possible to find extremely high-quality wrought iron products, above all in decorative work for churches and the houses of the rich: lamps, banner holders, torch holders, rings for tying up horses, door knockers, etc.
This art was passed down over the generations in Firenze and the surrounding area until the first half of the 20th century, and it left behind it many real works of art: impressive gates, splendid lamps, very particular Florentine-style bedheads. In the second half of the 20th century, wrought iron was widely replaced by steel and other metals, that are more resistant to the elements and therefore require less maintenance.

Translated by Jeremy Carden
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati

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