I’m continuing this week with a couple more pictures from our visit to the living history museum of Colonial Williamsburg:
The Blacksmith Shop
These are two of the four forges (furnaces or ovens) in Colonial Williamsburg’s Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury. On a chilly, rainy day in April, the shop was a bit smoky, but comfortable. On a summer day with four forges going, the heat must be unbearable for the men and women (yes, women blacksmiths) working there.
Our guide told us that Anderson Blacksmith Shop made all the metal implements needed by colonists from locally sourced iron. Note the large rectangular object hanging between the wall and the chimney–that was the bellows. My fingers didn’t move fast enough to get a shot of this blacksmith working those bellows, darn it.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet falls ill and the medical practitioner who tends her is not a surgeon or physician, but the local apothecary.
An apothecary created medicines and potions from recipes, grinding together the raw materials–roots, leaves, barks, etc.–from his supplies stored in individual jars. Some modern compounding pharmacies still customize medicines.
The Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop at Colonial Williamsburg displayed chalk tablets used for indigestion, and some cinchona bark used to make quinine for treating malaria. Interesting trivia: the malaria, which originated in Africa, supposedly came to the colonies in the blood of African slaves and was spread by colonial mosquitoes.
In rural areas of England and the colonies, the apothecary provided the only access to “professional” medical treatment. The apothecary who worked from the shop in Colonial Williamsburg was also a surgeon and man-midwife. From what I understand, in England, the guild strictly limited the trade to males. I’m not sure that was true in the colonies.
I’ve seen a lot of fictional blacksmiths and apothecaries, how about you? Author Tessa Dare has a blacksmith hero in one of her romances, and of course, there’s Mr. Jones, Jane Austen’s apothecary. Do you have any favorites?
Images: the author