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Camp Mess

I receive many requests about amounts of food needed for a weekend, week or longer period of time spent when out and about. In an effort to try and help the new person or the seasoned adventurer I send them this information shown below. It seems if one just adjusts some of the items, it will fit in most camp site very nicely.

A good example of a "camp mess" or "camp kitchen" (cooking items needed in a period camp) are those used by our own father of this country, George Washington.

"General Washington's Military Equipment" Shown below is information on this military "mess kit" or "camp mess" once owned and used by General George Washington, a set-up like this was not uncommon to European Officers, but unusual to the American Forces.

A small 44 page booklet titled "General Washington's Military Equipment" [ Mount Vernon , 1963], p.20 says: "His [GW's] military equipage grew gradually as the war dragged on. In April 1776. Benjamin Harbeson of Philadelphia provided a "mess kit" consisting of the following:

1 Nest of Camp Kettles
3 large Tin Canisters
1 doz. Oval tin dishes
9 Tin plates

He [GW] added more plates and canisters the following month. Perhaps part of this order is in the chest of camp utensils preserved at the Smithsonian Institute (Fig.11).



MESS KIT : Chest of wood - covered with leather, lined with green wool. Interior divided into fourteen compartments and containing a tray with nine compartments.

Equipped with the following:
4 tin pots with detachable wooden handles,
6 tin plates, 3 tin platters,
2 knives and 4 forks with black handles,
1 gridiron with collapsible legs,
2 tinder boxes, 8 glass bottles with cork stoppers,
2 glass bottles for pepper and salt with pewter tops.

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute.

"The National Museum of American History, A Smithsonian Museum" on page 104, there is a photograph of a field mess chest attributed to George Washington, possibly the same kitchen mess referred to. It contains tin plates, platters, utensils, and a tankard. There is a similar "mess kit" at the Valley Forge Historical Society at the National Park in
Pennsylvania , planned to be on display in early 2000. Had seen this "kitchen mess" thirty years ago at this location.

The "mess kit" in question is tin of a high quality that has turned dark with age, not pewtered [tin-lead alloy] as has been suggested. The gentleman from the society said he had trouble finding the mess kit as it is not on display at this time (hoped to make a new setting with it to be included - early in 2000).   This is the trouble these days with the cost of floor space, many items of interest are packed away (if not sold to private collections).

For a "camp mess" I carry a small tin lined brass kettle, carrying this one for the last 7-10 years on horseback, canoe/bateau, or trekking. Had Peter Gobel of GBW make a tin lid which works better than the boilers I have tried, easier to clean because of depth, plus your can pack your edibles in it.

I boil my tea water, cook my meal and then end up washing in it. Have washed my socks and scarfs as well as myself, a one pot camp.

It's 3-1/2" high, 6-1'4 wide @top, 5-1/4" wide @bottom, has a 1/4" rolled edge with a hand forged iron bail.

About the only thing that is safe to use with pure brass or copper is drinking water and would really question this anymore. I have seen many top quality copper canteens and at least one big samovar looking water can and none were tinned. However, anything acidic (including coffee) will react with untinned copper/brass with adverse health effects.

I make do with coffee, steel-cut oats, dried beans, blue parched corn, pinole or blue corn meal, wild rice, cone or Havana Brown sugar, salt, baking soda, pepper corn, dried fruit, smoked meat, sometimes maple sugar and not much else. Herb tea can cure what ails you; peppermint, red clover and rose hips is excellent and nutritious.

If you live on the trail (unless you're a rich Lord or Duke from
Europe and can forward supplies) you must be able to resupply staples as you travel around your area.

CONSIDER YOUR COOKING ITEMS:
Do you have enough room to pack your edibles in your pots, that was one requirement I wanted when looking at the different sizes available from the number of sources.

This small pot will hold enough edibles, tea or coffee bean for a week camp for two, tie the lid on to keep from loosing contents and keep critters out. This one that I have now is starting to get some good miles on it from a number of trips testing equipage.

This is something everyone should consider doing; test your equipment - how many different uses can each items be used for.

Example : a long handle (6-7") hand forged spoon with a hook or loop on the handle end can be used for several camp duties, such as lifting hot items from a cooking fire, hangs to dry, long enough to reach the bottom in most cooking pots, have used hook to carry fish and other items that are slippery.

Another example : is the cooking pot, it can have several uses like; cooking your meal, boiling your water, washing you and your camp items, washing your clothing, a fire bucket and a water container.

Always select an item that can be used for several uses, less to care for or carry; our forefathers (most common folks that is) did not have the resources to own all the neat types of equipage we see available today, if it was even available.

With research we find some items advertised today that are modern items or ideas that have been reproduced to look old and sold as correct, when they where not even invented yet for the advertised time period. Look at the Rev War books available that show actual equipment from the period, lots of good information, many of these items we see today, only made of modern materials like stainless steel or plastic.

How early in the "North American" trade has the brass kettle been traded to the natives or was otherwise available commercially? There are many account or records of brass kettles used in the American and Canadian fur trade, from the late 1600's to late 1800's.

A few examples are:
Plymouth Plantation (supply list date May 1679, Rivers Trade, p.181) lists (7) brass kettles, (4) copper pots.

Ross Cox (
_Columbia River , p. 75) says the Pacific Fur Company was trading brass kettles in 1812.

Copper fragments found at archeological digs of pre 1821 Canadian fur posts are often tinned, not always but a good percentage, same for digs at several Forts in the
United States . Copper and brass "preserving pans" used for making jams and jellies were not tinned because the sugar mixture in the pans got hot enough to melt the tin.

A great book on fake Canadian antiques :
"Can Fake" by
Royal Ontario Museum curator emeritus Donald Webster (ISBN 0-7710-8905-8). To anyone interested in buying antiques although the examples are Canadian, the principles of fakery discussed apply to antiques everywhere, and fakery is widespread. I had heard about this book on the e-mail hist_list and picked one up, interesting.

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I got several pots that where from the 1850 to 1870 period when the government put the Indians on the reservations, two are not tinned and one is, same with a couple of pans made of brass - tinned and not tinned. Asked Charles Hanson about this and from what he found, it depended on the government contract, supplier, pricing and quality as to how heavy a material the items were made from. Tin was cheaper than brass or copper, so he felt that it was possible a tinned brass or copper pot (lighter gauge brass or copper material) could bring as much $$$$ as a same weight item that wasn't tinned. Thus the tinned pot, or pan item was cheaper and would show more profit for the trader, health issues weren't a problem in those days.

It's only been since W.W.II that we have been really worried about what we use to drink from, eat on or cook in, look at the amount of pewter our grand folks used for those special events.

*  *  *  *

These daily rations are taken from the French and Indian War's period records:

Cornmeal or oats 2 handfuls
Peas or beans 2 handfuls
Parched corn 2 handfuls
Dried meat 3-6 pieces (venison, beef, fish)
Dried fruit 1-2 handfuls (apples, peaches, raisins, pumpkin or combination)
Small red potatoes 2-3 each
Small onions 1 each
Maple or muscavado sugar 1-2 Tb
Salt 1/2 Tb
Peppercorns 4-10 each
Coffee 1-2 handfuls
(Alternate) Chocolate 1/2 - 1 full cake or tea 1-2 Tb.

  *  *  *  *


Another daily rations from the Fur Trade period are much similar:

corn meal (per person) mixed with Havana sugar (2 cupped hand fulls),
corn flour (2 cupped hand fulls),
wild rice (cupped hand full),
barley pearled (cupped hand full),
split peas (cupped hand full),
fruit [dried apples or peaches] (2 cupped hand fulls),
dried meat strips broken into 3" pieces (2 cupped hand fulls),
parched corn w/ local nuts (3 cupped hand fulls),
tea (same measurement per person, lasts for 3-4 days - cupped hand full) a little on the weak side last day or two.

  *  *  *  *



This has worked for a 5 day outing, moving around camp, scouting, etc. but only lasts about 3 hard days of paddling (hard work will use up your supplies very fast).

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Lets start with the measurement for: a "cupped hand full" = ( 1) measuring cup.

This doesn't sound like much, I agree, but remember most dried edibles do swell when water is added. Rice, barley and peas will double in size or mount prepared. Most of us (not all) can go with less food from a few days to several weeks without any problem - doctors will tell you that the amount we eat regularly is a mind-set in most cases, we can do with less and would probably do better weight and health wise.

We try to eat two small regular meals daily, gathering or foraging for edibles in our short trips around camp when scouting game or looking at the area. When you get in a mind-set of watching for edibles as you make your scouts, it's surprising what you find, even if not hunting for squirrel, rabbits or flying fowl. Wild edibles are everywhere it's just the problem of figuring out what your looking at.

Working around water is always a good place for small plants that are edible, as well as the little crayfish, fish and small animals getting a drink. I think you are getting the idea or already do this in your normal outing experiences.

I have a good friend that I wrote an article about a few years ago in the T&LR journal Dr. Jerry LaVelle, he's an expert at foraged edibles in the Rockies, takes a small frying pan, buffalo grease, period fishing kit and he's off for the weekend. His wife gets a little rattled about his limited resources, but he uses what is available at hand, cat-tail flour for bread (bannock), has different plant leaves for a salad and so on, she's good for about two weekends like this a year. But it can be done, so she goes to prove that she's a tough as he is !!!! I wish I had the mind-set, the ability or guts to believe enough in myself to do this as much as he has.

MENUS :
Morning meal:
corn meal w/ Havana Brown sugar, (Havana Brown is an old sugar [less costly than white sugar in the colonial days] have switched to blue corn - better taste) 1/2 cup per person with water, a few small pieces of fruit and small amount of tea (save the tea leaves), corn flour, use a 1/2 cup per person of flour to make "bannock" bread (will produce a loaf per say the size of a regular hot dog). Surprisingly this will satisfy you, no matter what your brain says.

Afternoon snack:
some parched corn, a little fruit and whatever you may find in your travels.

Evening meal:
with a little testing you will be able to judge the amount of rice or barley needed to make a small portion, and not waste anything. We have used mixed small amount of wild rice, barley pearled, split peas and a little jerky (changing the meal of one or two items) to make a stew, make with a little more water than what your wife would use - fills you up with the broth. Use your used tea leaves for a mild tea flavor. Use any left overs and try and eat late in the evening (going to bed on a full belly).

Don't forget what you have foraged during the day that can be prepared to supplement your evening or morning meal. Our biggest problem seems to be mind-set that we are going to starve, hell you'll die from lack of water long before you'll starve.

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An old friend (in his mid 70s') had a heart attack, had been very active all his farming life, he refused any medical care when he found it was possible he would not walk again, his doctor respected his wishes and had him taken home. I would visit him in the evenings, he refused food and liquids and it took him 14 days to die. The lack of liquid is what shut him down, he only lost a few pounds in that period.

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So the chance of you doing great harm on a weekend or a week from the lack of food is really not a major problem according to most doctors, unless you have medical problems, special medication, etc. that may require you to use with food.

But do make sure you keep liquids in your system, plus a good drink of water is somewhat filling by itself.

This all sounds great, right. Well it's easier to write or tell it - than when packing for that adventure, you'll find yourself cheating and adding this and that - just in case. You'll stop and think and remember that first hunting trip (a day long) and all the extra stuff you took that Dad told you wasn't needed, well just in case.

The big thing is do some testing the night the wife had to work late, make up a meal, simple - small in amount, bottom line is testing. With your experience you'll have NO problem, it's just that mind-set that we all fight with. I'm always packing and unpacking different amounts, if you take just so much - small amount of food, and leave out "the just in case" factor, then your options are get along with what you got and start foraging.

A GOOD REMEDY:
In one of the back issues of T&LR a fellow got sick from his copper pot. He remembered from his military training, took a bone and burned it in the fire and charred deeply, then ground it fine, added water and drank it. In a few hours he felt ok.

Charcoal sure does work. I been there and made myself the medicine from burnt wood. I made a thick past and ate it like pudding. Then drank just enough water to wash it down.   In a few hours I felt ok.

With our ability to cultivate, forage, or supply ourselves in the
New World and the chance for a free life style, still some would turn their backs on opportunity and accept the English Rule, their taxes, etc.  But several of our statesmen saw this as an act of treason and thought such acts where unthinkable, see Samuel Adams remarks below.

Remember good old common sense and a little knowledge will take you a long ways.

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    COPPER TRADE POTS.

Early HBC trade pot.

Lots of records of brass & copper pots & kettles used in the Canadian fur trade, from 1786 to 1812. I'd be happy to provide details. One source, Ross Cox ( _Columbia River , p. 75) says the Pacific Fur Company was trading brass kettles in 1812.

Copper fragments found at archeological digs of pre-1821 Canadian fur posts are often (I dare not say "always"!) tinned.

I recall correctly, copper & brass "preserving pans" used for making jams & jellies were not tinned because the sugar mixture in the pans got hot enough to melt the tin. (Anyone gotten a burn from a hot sugar mixture? Yow!)

These pans are quite large, though. I just read a great book on fake Canadian antiques, _Canfake_ by Royal Ontario Museum curator emeritus Donald Webster (ISBN 0-7710-8905-8). I would recommend it to anyone interested in buying antiques--although his examples are Canadian, the principles of fakery he discusses apply to antiques everywhere, and fakery is very widespread.

He also devotes a whole chapter to discussing modern reproductions (including the ROM's museum reproductions) as "future fakes". It's fun to read, with stories of all kinds of scams & fakes from Webster's years at the ROM.

Your humble & obedient servant,

Angela Gottfred

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I got several pots that where from the late 1780ís to 1870 period. The later pots and kettles are from when the government put the Indians on the reservations, two are not tinned and one is, same with a couple of pans made of brass - tinned and not tinned. Asked Charley Hanson about this and from what he had found, it depended on the government contract, supplier, pricing and quality as to how heavy a material the items was made from.

Tin was cheaper than brass or copper, so he felt that it was possible a tinned brass or copper pot/kettle (lighter guage brass or copper material) could bring as much $$$$ as a same weight item that wasn't tinned. Thus the tinned pot, pan item was cheaper and would show more profit for the trader, health issues weren't a problem in those days. It's only been since WWII that we have been really worried about what we use to drink from, eat on or cook in, look at the amount of pewter our grand folks used for those special events.

Your humble,

Buck Conner

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HUDSON 'S BAY CO. TRADE POT

HANDMADE BY PETER GOEBEL

It is a wonder to most why it was decided by the 17th century coppersmith to create such an incredibly labor intensive pot. Labor was cheap then, but it still does not excuse this pot! Hours go into reproducing this quintessential HBC voyager/trapper pot.

It was THE POT to own if you were heading into the Northern Wilderness and was sold by the Hudson 's Bay Company for over 200 years! It is completely made by hand made of heavy gauge copper. This is the "cramped seam" version, popular in the 17th and 18th century. Both the body and the lid are tin lined. A wire bail is attached to the pot with a riveted attachment. The lid has a large ring which is also riveted. This is a very sturdy pot which is a favorite now as it was then!

Dated: mid l7th to mid 19th century
Origin: English for trade in N. America/French Canadian
Dimensions: 4 3/4"dia. x 5"tall. Approx. 1 quart
X-0017-TLC HUDSON'S BAY CO POT (commissioned work).

Note the clamped seam on the lid.

This pot belongs to me, pictures shown for reference only.

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HISTORICAL VALUE:

Mr. Goebel worked from an original loaner pot and with the Museum of the Fur Trade to make sure this is an accurate reproduction of the famous Hudson 's Bay Company trade pot. James A. Hanson was one of several that helped on the project to insure every detail was correct, right down to the "ears" on the body that hold the bail.

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HEALTH:

In one of the back issues of T&LR a fellow got sick from his copper pot. Remembering from his military training, took a bone and burned it in the fire and charred it deeply, then ground it fine powder, added water and drank it. In a few hours he felt better.

Charcoal sure does work. I been there and made myself the medicine from burnt wood. I made a thick past and ate it like pudding. Then drank just enough water to wash it down and clear the taste of the ash. In a few hours I felt OK.

About the only thing that is safe to use with pure copper is drinking water. I have seen many top quality copper canteens and at least one big samovar looking water container and none were tinned. Remember anythng acidic (including coffee) will react with untinned copper and with adverse health effects.

Tea is for unrepentant royalists and tory sympathizers. Herb tea can cure what ails you; peppermint, red clover and rose hips is tasty and nutritious. If your going to live on the trail (unless you're rich and can forward supply) you must be able to resupply staples by foraging.

From what the health dept. tells us, its a combination of all of the above, and a few other things that will make us sick. In older houses, you can find lead/iron/steel/and plastic piping carrying water, usually put together with old lead/glues and unknown compounds. All this helps to add with the problem. One person at the Colorado Dept. of Health told me they have now found chemical makeup problems with some of the plastic pipe used in new housing, it's always something. The smarter we get about such things, the dumber we find we have been. The old statement "don't do you body functions in the same area as your eating functions", and several others along this line, where common sense to our forefathers. "That old well or spring didn't seem to have problems". That old copper or brass pot that your great grandmother used, as the tinned surface wore off, she would assign it differnt duties and use the new one for the acidic jobs. I'm starting to think past generations just generalized a death or illness as a "heart attack" or "natural causes", not the different reasons seen today, made life with less tress anyway. Like this subject, you just didn't do this or do that, because it was bad for you, you didn't ask why or prove it like we do today.

____________________________________________________

SELECTING YOUR WARES:

This is something everyone should consider doing; test your equipment - how many different uses can each items be used for.

Example a long handle (6-7") hand-forged spoon with a hook or loop on the handle end can be used for several camp duties, such as lifting hot items from a cooking fire, hangs to dry, long enough to reach the bottom in most cooking pots, have used hook to carry fish and other items that are slippery. Another example is the cooking pot, it can have several uses like; cooking your meal, boiling your water, washing you and your camp items, washing your clothing, a fire bucket and a water container.

Always select an item that can be used for several uses, less to care for or carry; our forefathers (most common folks that is) did not have the resources to own all the neat types of equipage we see available today, if it was even available.

With research we find some items advertised are modern items or ideas, in some cases they are reproduced to look old and sold as correct, when they where not even invented yet for the advertsied time period. Look at the Rev War books available that show actual equipment from the period, lots of good information. Many of these items we see today, only made of modern materials like stainless steel or plastic.

____________________________________________________

With our ability to cultivate, forage, or supply ourselves in the New World and the chance for a free life style, still some would turn their backs on opportunity and accept the English Rule, their taxes, etc. But several of our statesmen saw this as an act of treason and thought such acts where unthinkable, see Samuel Adams remarks below.

"Remember good old common sense and a little knowledge will take you a long ways".
____________________________________________________

    From the December 1999 issue of THE COLONIAL SOCIETY magazine,

a D. L.. "Concho" Smith interview:

Over the last few years the reenactment sport from Medieval to the American Civil War has seen a growth in the number of cooking items available, this interview was to ask about proper thickness, hammered or spun, and where the originals tinned.

pots.jpg (9716 bytes) 

Early French trade kettle popular in the 17th & 18th century on the right, & a new copy.

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[1] Mr. Barry "Buck" Conner; colonial / fur trade researcher, author and founding proprietor of Clark & Sons Mercantile, (a historical period foods and campwares specialty store), known for his close friendship with Charley E. Hanson, Jr. and their attempt to provide documented information on the subject of edibles and the wares that were used to prepare them.

[2] Mr. Peter "The Smithy" Goebel, well known premiere coppersmith, manufacturer and proprietor of Goose Bay Workshops, (supplier of correct cookwareís, and hand made period home ware items), a supplier to several of the period movies and countless museums.

 

Research what your looking for, this HBC kettle is a reproduction that could pass for an original, as there are no "proof" or "touch marks" shown.

 Conner Collection.

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[1] Mr. Conner what about the thickness of old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to what we are seeing in the market place today, the reproductions.

First letís look at thickness, - originals that havenít been wore down to paper thickness, thatís tin - copper - brass - iron. Over the years I have collected, traded, or sold many kettles, pots, pans, boilers, etc. - eating items found in camps, on the trail, or in settlements.

For thickness of the copper and brass they vary considerably in the walls, bottoms and their weight. Some tinned and many not tinned, these items where all in excellent condition, as many where museum extras that Charley Hanson had acquired at the Museum of the Fur Trade in NE, or knew about and pointed me in that direction.

Yes some are thinner than others, Hanson thought they where probably Indian trade items, not the normal weight for settlement trade. He felt that many of the thinner kettles, pots and pans where made in England or India and where low in quality and cheaper for the trader to make his deals with. They wanted them to be used up, broken, leaking, etc. by the next trade season, thus producing a supply and demand market, like someone said the Indians moved around and created the perfect situation for wearing out their thin cookware.

A completely different story in the settlements, the cookware was to last for long periods of time, as was many of the voyagers kettles carried on the freighter canoes, much heavier than the trade counterpart item.

If you make a study of these items as several of us have over the years, and several well known friends like Charley Hanson [Museum of the Fur Trade}, Bill Large [barrel maker and collector], Vernon W. Bigsby [Valley Forge Museum Society], and the list could bore you to death, has always been a discussion item on thickness, (wall - compared to bottoms dia., etc.).

Look at the cast iron in museums compared to the heavy stuff we see today, not even close, I have some that have a 1/8"-3/16" wall at the very thickest and they survived from the 1700ís.

From these 17th and 18th c. sites I do not believe I have ever encountered a single surviving dug kettle or even scrap kettle brass that was as thick as what we see today, the standard trade kettles. The reason for this is the property of metal today compared to yesterdays are different in several elements, I wonít bore you with this, but the minerals in the ground work differently on all types of metals and their makeups.

By the way, before this interview I checked my originals...believe it or not, 0.022/0.025" on the larger ones, and 0,022/0.027 on the other ones where average. As Buck, I mean Mr. Conner has stated about Mr. Hansonís thoughts on settlement compared to Indian trade cookware, they are the same as mine.

Small original HBC brass, tin lined trade kettle.

MFT Collection.

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[2] Mr. Goebel the same question; what about the thickness of old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

Gentlemen, first off thank you for your concern about trade kettles in general, and thanks to Buck and Mike for helping to make things clearer. OK group - Lets talk kettles -- right from the horses -- mouth.

By the way the kettle (correct English spelling - pre 1620) that I reproduce was taken from a ca. 1740 Potawatomie burial and measured .047 thickness ! My repro. was .050 thick. The original was also tin lined. Both the metal weight and the tin lining would point to the kettle having been made for European or Colonial consumption, not a standard trade item. Trade kettles were thinner, .025 to .037 is about the norm on the dozen or more originals Iíve measured. Rarely was one tinned.

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[1] Mr. Conner what about the construction - hammered or spun on old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

Spinning has been around for centuries, look at the plates, kettles, pots, pan, you name it from Europe before the Europeans came here, really nice stuff, much of the early items came here with the earliest settlers. Made of pewter, brass, copper, etc. Spinning would have been present throughout the settlements and traded at many places, early on coming from the European market. Hammered would have been probably made here, when spinning hadnít gotten into a full blown operation yet (early years).

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[2] Mr. Goebel again, what about the construction - hammered or spun on old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

Metal spinning -- The Romanís spun helmet parts and shield bosses - B. C. ! "One Manís Trash is Another Manís Treasure" put out by Museum Boymans - Van Beuningen in Rotterdam or Dennis Diderotís Encyclopedia, kettles from the late 1500ís on are made by being -- "hammered or beaten on an anvil and shaped by hollowing sinking raising and stretching. The vessel was then planished on the lathe ... are often clearly visible." In Tunica Treasure, by Jeoffry Brain, he mentions that the lathe turning often left holes in the center of the kettles.

Two kettles I have recently studied are taken from Dutch sites in N.Y., both 17th century.

No.#1 is spun with lathe marks and center very visible and is .032 thick unlined with the worst wired edge Iíve ever seen.

No.#2 is hammered up (a kettle bowl really) and is now .021 thick - no doubt it started thicker.

Early kettles would have rolled rivets (which often leak) I make these also.

Average thickness is about .032, I make these also.

Approx. 30-40% of original kettles have a hole in the bottom from the lathe. I can do this too !

Reproduction copper tin lined lid on an "Original large brass tin lined trade kettle" per the shop owner.

Conner Collection.

This is the kettle mentioned that was made by Goose Bay Workshops 20 years earlier, before using a "touch mark". Be careful of what you are looking at or getting ready to buy, this is a $150.00 kettle that was going for twice that amount until the shop keeper was made aware of his mistake in purchasing it from a trader.

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[1] Mr. Conner what about in the construction are they tinned or un-tinned on old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today, please excuse the same questionís over and over again..

Tinning is real interesting, most originals that where tinned, where usually done so very lightly - cost was everything. Hanson figured there where only a few original tin items around at best, most have been retinned several times from their first tinning. The reason was back then like now, what do you stir you food, and what do you eat with ??? METAL whether itís, pewter, silver, tin or iron - itís metal, harder than the tin surface that you cooking item has for a protective surface, so when you put your eating/stirring items in the cooking vessel your removing a small amount of tin, probably you have passed more than one wants to think about.

So as far as to the appearance of the tin, is it original or something your local blacksmith did ??? Tinning is something strange and the weather can play some real unusual tricks on the tinnier, Iíve tinned two pots at the same time and each looked different, finally sent them to Goebel to clean up, they looked different in color and smoothness when gotten back from him - am told by several experts that locations do strange things in this field.

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[2] Mr. Goebel what about in the construction are they tinned or un-tinned on old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

For domestic consumption was almost always tinned - there are a few exceptions, for beer making, chocolate production etc. Brass was about a 50/50 deal.

Most were tinned at one time, but it is now so thin in most spots to be nonexistent, or unsafe for acid foods. A lot of the naysayers seem to forget that tomatoes and other acid foods simply were not cooked, and tomatoes were believed to be poisonous because of the acid attack on the copper/brass.

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[1] Mr. Conner what about the "proof" or "touch" mark issue on old original kettles, pots, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

Let give you an example about these marks, a few months ago a antique dealer friend showed me an early large French trade kettle he had just traded for, after looking at it I asked to take it outside for better light. Found Mr. Goebelís touch mark (scribed on the underside of the rim - 1/16" lettering, very faint. I showed my friend what he had missed, and questioned his $325 price tag (a feeler tag as he puts it), he had bought it wholesale for half that amount from a good supplier. A good reason that many craftsman have started using the stamped "touch mark", thatís pleases many collector and museums, (would have been a 5 minute job to remove the scribed marks).

Oh, Jim Hanson, Charlieís son has a good article in one of the Fur Trade Quarterlies a few issues back, good information and available at the Museum of the Fur Trade.

Original HBC pot and kettle.

 MFT Collection.

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[2] Mr. Goebel what about the "proof" or "touch" mark issue on old original kettles, and boilers and how do they compare to the reproductions of today.

ALL kettles - English - French - Dutch are basically derived from the 15th and 16th century Dutch styles.

If anyone has a problem, please call - Iím open to learn and change 1-(540)-456-7111 and weíll talk.

I"M TRYING !!!

Peter Goebel N.B. The Touchmark stays.

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A comment from the editor; "I know Mr. Goebelís work, own some of his items, and have looked at many, many different other craftsmenís wares and have done so for many years. Itís hard to find good quality items, at good prices, or items made correctly; when you find a kettle or pot to your liking buy it - it maybe a one time deal".

"Concho" Smith.

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Until next time, we leave as friends and followers of those that went before us.

Buck Conner  

"One who tradesĒ

"Uno quiťn negocia"

ďUnqui commerceĒ

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