Iron Casting Spoon
9" x 4.5" x 2"
This solid iron 18th-century blacksmith’s casting spoon is a charming remnant of a bygone tool essential for building, agriculture, and art across millennia. It would originally have been used for pouring liquid metal into a mold, removing slag from the melting process, or melting small amounts of brass and silver. Ironworking consists of two main methods: “cast iron” which involves melting iron in a furnace before pouring into a mold and allowing it to cool, and “wrought iron” which employs a mallet or hammer to work the iron on an anvil. The production of iron objects can be traced back to ancient civilizations including Egypt and Mesopotamia, and by 1000 BC, knowledge of its use and properties had spread to Europe. The Roman Empire developed sophisticated infrastructure surrounding ironworking to produce weapons, agricultural tools, and house fittings. Despite associations with black magic and alchemy during the Middle Ages, iron was used in the building of castles and cathedrals, including famous structures like France’s Notre-Dame de Paris and Hampton Court Palace in southern England. From the 16th to 19th centuries, ironworking moved into the decorative sphere, gaining popularity during the Baroque and Rococo movements which prized ornateness. Many consider the 18th century to be the time in which ironworking reached its pinnacle as a craft and art form with the Age of Enlightenment providing a culture of new ideas and technology, and separation from earlier religious superstitions. An attractive display object, this humble tool is testament to an age-old industry of great physical and cultural significance.
At this time in history, the 18th century was brimming with cultural change as the Age of Enlightenment took a foothold. With the goal of pursuing knowledge and gaining a deeper understanding of humanity, nature, and society, came developments in philosophy, art, architecture, literature, science, politics, etc. Iron continued to be manipulated as a decorative material; it was used to create ornate gates, railings and balconies and, on a larger scale, was cast to create bridges and aqueducts in feats of astonishing engineering. With the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 19th century, iron could be more cheaply produced, and it became a popular material for factories and building structures. Perhaps the most famous historical iron structure is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed and built by Gustave Eiffel (1832–1923) in 1899.