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HERITAGE NEWS: Fencing wire and references

Written by John Prickard

Regarding fencing wire:

About the most wires can usually tell you is that it is post-1788. And you knew that anyway! The earliest Australian record for wire in rural fences I now know of is 1840. A few years earlier than what I published several years ago. (Yes, even I engage in the "my site is older than yours" race.) Galvanised wire was advertised in mid-1850s. Barbed wire may give a more precise date, depending on the type. In general, barbed wire is post mid-1870s, but specific types were patented later, and may help you put brackets on a date of occupation.

Iron and steel fence posts, and steel droppers may also help because most (but certainly not all) were patented. But you must be aware of later re-use of older scavenged components.

Send me some images of your wire / post / dropper, and I may be able to help you. (This sort of advice and help is really expensive: a coffee when I next see you.)

BTW: all of my fence-related papers including my 2010 PhD are on Dropbox as freebies. Help yourselves:  HERE

Copies of the diagrams, images, etc. are available from me, please don't just screen-dump them.

Fencing wire references:

I guess that most of you are aware of Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/texts), but if you aren't, then you should be.

Internet Archive is a treasure trove of FREE downloadable scanned books on everything from A to Z and beyond. These include hundreds of early mechanical, technological and agricultural encyclopaedias and books that will certainly help you better understand how things were done in 19th and early 20th centuries. If you want to know about just about any form of technology, this is the place to start. Any historical archaeologist worth her salt should have at least some of the zillion books from Internet Archive in her digital bookshelf. However, be warned: Internet Archive can be seriously addictive!

There are also hundreds of early Australian books, and if you are looking for some historical account that is only held in the Rare Books section of some library, then you should always start with Internet Archive. It is truly surprising what you will find.

Many of the titles were scanned by Google, and some appear to require payment to download them. If it looks like this is going to happen, you can bypass it by clicking on the "All files HTTPS" or similar button. This will get you to a page with options of downloading in a range of formats including PDF.

The search function is a bit clunky, and the way the items are described is painful to say the least. You can't distinguish between the same item from different libraries.

Here is one my favourite sources, Holtzapffel. A series of five volumes from mid-19th C. with extensive discussion of materials, and how things were done. The titles are not truly indicative of the encyclopaedic contents, there is considerably more than you might think from the titles. The URLs are to the PDFs (mostly 40 - 70 MB), there are other formats available. Other historical archaeologists will have their own lists of useful titles.

Holtzapffel, C. (1852). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Volume I. Materials; their differences, choice, and preparation; various modes of working them, generally without cutting tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica01holtuoft  

Holtzapffel, C. (1856). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume II: The principles of construction, action, and application, of cutting tools used by hand; and also of machines derived from the hand tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica02holtuoft         

Holtzapffel, C. (1850). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume III: Abrasive and miscellaneous processes, which cannot be accomplished with cutting tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica03holtuoft         

Holtzapffel, C. (1881). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume IV: The principles and practice of hand or simple turning. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica04holtuoft

Holtzapffel, J. J. (1884). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume V: The principles and practice of ornamental or complex turning. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

https://archive.org/details/HoltzapffelVol5_1884
(Unfortunately this is the only version available and it is a really poor scan, and the PDF is 1.2 GB. Yes, GB, not MB)

Please contact: blog@asha.org.au for John's email address