Blacksmith Peter Ross recently sent me a link to the video below that shows production nailmaking of shoe nails in a town in Austria. These guys are working at breakneck speed – forget those modern videos you see of amateur smiths working in their garages.
If you’ve never read about pre-industrial nail production, it was a hard life. In the United Kingdom and its colonies, nailmaking was many times a family affair. The man, wife and children were all involved in making nails. And I imagine this is about what it looked like.
At the end of the 18th century, Hugh Bodey estimated that there were tens of thousands of nailmakers in Black County alone in his book “Nailmaking” (Shire). Other regions of the United Kingdom counted 35,000-40,000 nailmakers in 1799.
My German language skills stink, but I believe the film says a nailmaker (or the nailmaking shop) could make 5 million tacks in a year. And when you see the looks on the faces of the smiths, they are intent on making every second count.
— Christopher Schwarz