Monday, November 10, 2014

Great Granddad Was An Ironmonger

An Ironmonger was a term originally used to describe someone -- usually a blacksmith -- who made and sold iron products.  

Over time the term has been expanded to include other materials such as steel, aluminum, brass, copper, tin and even plastics.

In Great Britain, the word "ironmongery" still has this meaning, but in the United States, the term "ironmongery" has been replaced by "hardware."

Following the industrial revolution some Ironmongers dealt specifically with architectural ironmongery such as door handles, locks, hinges, lamps, etc.  Other Ironmongers might have manufactured items for ships and boats such as anchors, pulleys, cleats etc.  And, still others might have crafted items for the horse and carriage trade such as stirrups, buckles, bits, spurs, etc.

By the Victorian era an ironmonger's shop was the nineteenth-century equivalent of the modern department store and many offered a vast array of goods -- everything from knife-cleaning powder, candles and saucepans to kitchen ranges, gas-fittings, bell-fittings or even wallpaper. 

Many tradesmen such as the carpenter, boat-builder, gardener, grocer and undertaker depended on the ironmonger for their tools and materials.

If you'd like to learn more Victorian Ironmongers in Great Britain I can recommend reading: The Victorian Ironmonger (Shire Library), by Cecil A. Meadows (Author) available on Amazon.

David Austine 1781 - 1850

Not a great deal is known about my 3rd great grandfather David Austine.  We know he was born about 1781 in Dumfries, Scotland, and served in the Royal Navy from 1818 to 1827.  At the time of the marriages of two of his daughters in 1844, he was identified as an Ironmonger.

It is assumed David Austine passed away about 1850.  His wife Elizabeth Reeves Austine was still alive and living in Montrose, Scotland in 1851, but she too is gone before 1861.  

Perhaps the carpenter's tools in this chest (that I collected in 1970s) were purchased from a Victorian Ironmonger.

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