Anvil bolster

Made:
1790-1819
maker:
James Watt
James Watt's Garret workshop record photography. See file name for location details. Photographed on location / grey

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James Watt's Garret workshop record photography. See file name for location details. Photographed on location / grey
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

1 Anvil bolster with 3 v grooves

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham, from c.1795 through to his death in 1819. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

This is a grooved stake, for use forming metal while held in the vice. The poor execution of this example suggests that it is not a trade article, and this impression is confirmed by comparison with another similar item in the workshop. It appears to be forged, not cast: the end of the tang bears evidence of having been cut off a bar using a hot sett. Altogether it is crudely forged and filed up; the grooves, especially, are untidily cut. Such stakes more commonly have round-bottomed grooves, for manipulating wire, rod or tube. This one might have been intended for forging rod to a triangular section or for beating sheet metal into a sharp angle.

Details

Category:
James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
1924-792/286
Materials:
metal (ferrous) and wrought iron
type:
bolster
credit:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt