Pennsylvania Decorated Artist Blacksmiths Swage Block:
Folk art or advertising piece?
This is a beautifully designed pattern with applique details.
It is well proportioned and has many useful shapes.
The only fault I find in the design is the closeness of the hemispherical depressions.
However, this is a minor fault in a very artfully made block.
The flat back with porosity and shrinks indicates that this block was cast in an open faced mold.
This was a primitive process where the pattern was rammed up in the casting floor sand.
Iron filled the mold from a long runner directly from the cupola.
The long flat side was cut for the feed runner.
The decorations include a bellows, a blacksmiths leg vice, tongs and two other unidentified devices.
One might be a hammer but the shape at the upper left is a complete mystery.
But the biggest mystery is why the decorations? A gift, an advertising piece, art for art's sake?
The edge grooves are two types.
Smooth half rounds and tapered half rounds.
More variety in such a small block.
Photos courtesy of John Catchings, Catchings Collection.