Blacksmiths Used To Be Considered Magicians Because They Basically Are

By Jeff Ayers — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

At Death Wish Coffee, we love things that are well, metal... \m/. Naturally, then, we are drawn to blacksmiths and that entire industry so we decided to do a little digging on what exactly that world is all about. 

The facts:

A 'smith' is a person who works with metal. A 'blacksmith' works with iron and steel and has an extensive knowledge of how to create and repair items made of these materials. Iron can be a shiny grey color when polished but is usually covered in kind of rust called black oxide. Because of its darker color iron was referred to as 'black metal' in old English, thus the person who works the black metal is called a 'blacksmith'.


There are specific types of people that work with iron, like a farrier, who specializes in shaping iron into horseshoes.

A blacksmith uses a forger which is special fire made from burning coal or charcoal and this helps to superheat the metal. Iron specifically cools down very fast so a blacksmith has to be quick with their work.

Blacksmiths make everything from complex weapons and armor to simple nails and chains.

Where do they come from?

Blacksmiths, specifically smiths, have been around since the dawn of time.

Tubal-cain was said to be a decedent of Cain and is mentioned as a smith in the Hebrew Bible. (Cain literally means 'smith')

In Norse mythology (another one of our favorite subjects) the Sons of Ivaldi were said to be dwarfs and blacksmith brothers who made all sorts of things for the gods including Odin's spear and Thor's hammer.

The real history of working metal:

Mankind has been forging and working metal for thousands of years. Gold, silver and copper all occur in nature in their native states, and all three can be manipulated easier than iron or steel. This is why we have found metal work throughout ancient artifacts.

The biggest boom for the industry, however, was during the Iron Age. This is the period of time between 1200 and 600 BC when humans became aware of the metal iron and what could be done with it.

During the Medieval period, blacksmithing came into prominence and was considered one of the seven mechanical arts. Every town had a 'smithy' and many were considered to be magicians because of what they could produce with tools and manipulating metal.

Then the Industrial Revolution happened, and metalworkers were in higher demand.

But with the advent of new technology and mass production, the blacksmithing craft started to die out in the late 1800s.


Bonus Story:

Did you know Jack from the term 'Jack O' Lantern' was a blacksmith?

According to the story, he made a deal with the devil for seven years of prosperity. The story goes to tell of how Jack tricked the devil three times and when Jack the blacksmith finally went to the underworld the devil said he didn't want him there and to go to St. Peter. 

In retaliation, Jack took a burning coal and stuck it in the pumpkin he was eating (some stories it was a turnip) to light his way to heaven. The demons who saw it knew to stay away from tricky Jack - and that is why we use Jack O' Lanterns to frighten away evil spirits during Halloween!

Related: Grind It Out: Elisa Coakley-Koch

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