What is a copper hide hammer used for?

Ear Hammer

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What is a copper hammer used for?

The “copper hammers” or “wire mills” are industries for the smelting and transformation of copper ore using hydraulic power. In these smelting factories two sections could be distinguished: the area of smelting of the mineral in furnaces and the forging and elaboration of the copper cauldrons. Both were powered by water power.

During the Middle Ages, it was possible to mechanize the air supply by means of hydraulically moved bellows or barquines, providing a constant and sufficient amount of air to the forge. From the 17th century onwards we find another important technical innovation with the blowing tubes. Both systems were used in the copper factories of the Iberian Cordillera.

It was common to find two furnaces in the same factory, one for smelting and the other for forging. In an interrogation of Luco’s factory in December 1828, it is said that he used as machines “a fire furnace to melt the copper, another to heat it and from there it is transferred to the furnace, which with its movement and the direction of the workers is where the cauldrons are formed”.

Claw hammer

Orogenic agents: those tectonic agents that produce vertical movements that affect extensive regions such as countries and continents. This is a slow, gentle process, so much so that one could speak of an evolution in the earth’s structure.

Thermal insulator: a material incapable of conducting the heat of an energy in transit. Thermal insulating materials are used to store heat for a longer period of time, i.e. they prevent the transfer of energy.

Alloy: A mixture of one or more fused metals forming an apparently homogeneous body. Alloys are classified into ferrous and non-ferrous alloys, where copper alloys are of the second type. Alloys have particular properties of mechanical strength and corrosion resistance in contact with air and water.

Feed: refers to the mass of rock or particles that feed a certain plant and that is subjected to a certain process, for example crushing, flotation, etc. As a synonym, the word head is used in some parts of the process.

Hammer before and after

Especially desired was copper, which – in alloy with other minerals – made it possible to produce a wide variety of tools and sumptuous objects: axes, shovels (such as the coa), spearheads, fishing hooks, amulets, bells, bracelets and tweezers, among others [Roskamp 2013: 43].

Although in the viceregal period copper pieces for everyday use were made, this allowed both the extraction and the hammering of copper to continue in this region of Michoacán and very old techniques persisted in the production of everyday objects during the viceroyalty.

This is especially evident in the thinking of the influential Pedro Rodríguez, Count of Campomanes. This jurist wrote in 1774 a Discourse on the promotion of popular industry, where he dealt with guilds in a harsh and condemnatory manner: Nothing is more contrary to popular industry than the erection of guilds and privileged privileges…. The height of the harm is in the exclusive ordinances and the watertightness they induce, so that they prevent the spread of popular industry…. To avoid such damages, it is convenient not to establish a charter, guild or particular brotherhood of craftsmen…. It is in accordance with this system to extinguish and reform with prudence whatever is established that is contrary to the principles that are referred to [Castro 2017: 126].