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Blacksmith demonstration at the Hanover Christmas market

Blacksmith is the professional and trade designation for people who work metal by forging ( open- die or drop forging ). Blacksmiths can work in craft or industrial companies. A blacksmith's workshop is the forge .

Job description (Germany)

Training in this craft is still possible today . However, the name of the former blacksmith profession has changed. Today the apprenticeship is called metal worker , specializing in metal design . Nevertheless - based on their cultural self-image - the newly trained young “metal workers” often describe themselves as blacksmiths , art blacksmiths or metal designers .


Blacksmith in Loi-Huno , East Timor
Woman in male domain: blacksmith in Sierra Leone

Blacksmithing is a craft that has been practiced since the Bronze Age . There has always been something magical and mystical about blacksmiths since ancient times. See: Blacksmith in Culture .

Blacksmiths were valued and sought after primarily as manufacturers of weapons, tools and equipment. The territorial lords recruited good smiths from one another. In rural areas the blacksmith was still an indispensable craftsman with a broad spectrum in the late 20th century, for example as a blacksmith for wagons and farm implements, as a farrier , blacksmith , locksmith and tool manufacturer. There was specialization early on, especially in the cities with their guilds and in certain rural regions (e.g. Remscheid, Solingen, Schmalkalden, in the Sauerland, in the Siegerland and in the Lahn-Dill area). Specialists such as armourers , cutlers , nail smiths , harness makers and coppersmiths established themselves there . From this, important manufacturers soon developed .

The blacksmith's trade lives from good training and above all from its own practice; this has remained the case since the Hittites began to manufacture iron around 3800 years ago and in Central Europe since the Iron Age around 2800 years ago. The professional experience, which was shown by the quality of the workpieces, was of particular importance. In earlier times, the importance of durability and reliability was much greater than it is today when it comes to the use of everyday objects such as weapons and various tools . Difficulties such as fluctuating raw material quality and a lack of metallurgical expertise (which we have today) could mostly be compensated for by experience.

As the trade served ever larger areas, master blacksmiths specialized. With the establishment of manufactories, the specialization continued to refine. In many cases, a blacksmith only carried out a few movements there. The routine thus learned allowed a constant quality, but was at the expense of the technical breadth. The fact that master blacksmiths no longer work independently is a phenomenon of industrialization .

Individual regions obtained as a result of its forged products worldwide notoriety, so from the early Middle Ages in the Middle East with Damascus as a famous center or from the late Middle Ages in the German area of the city Solingen with edged weapons and knives. In France it was mainly Thiers and Nogent, in England Sheffield, which long competed with Solingen. Until well into the 19th century, cutlery made their cutlery in relatively small businesses. Solingen is a prime example of manufacture. In the 20th century there was still a separate craft with masters and journeymen for each individual work step . The specialization of the apprenticeships was reduced several times with the decreasing number of apprentices.

Nevertheless, there are still blacksmiths in the national and international area who, in addition to well-founded historical specialist knowledge such as driving , fire welding , splitting , punching or even stylistic knowledge , have mastered modern metalworking techniques . A good blacksmith is therefore almost a universal genius in relation to creative metal design today - as in the past .


Guild coat of arms of the forge with hammer, tongs and the fire snake Aspis
Statue in front of the old forge in Kehdingbruch (Cuxhaven district)

by material and type of property according to production and type of object according to environment

Historical illustrations from the 16th century by Jost Amman

Myths and Legends

Famous blacksmiths

Blacksmith museums

See also


  • Hermann Hundeshagen: The blacksmith at the anvil. A practical textbook for all blacksmiths . People and Knowledge, Berlin (GDR) 1957; Reprint: Manuela Kinzel, Göppingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-95544-120-3 .
  • Hanno Trurnit: Ovary & Winkler or "... as long as it's hot". History (s) of Bavarian blacksmith families. Trurnit & Partner, Ottobrunn 2012, ISBN 978-3-9813382-1-8 .

Web links

Commons : Blacksmith  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Forgings  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Schmied  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hermann Hundeshagen: The blacksmith at the anvil. A practical textbook for all blacksmiths. Fig. And explanation of "Punching with a punch" see p. 121, ISBN 3-88746-430-3 ( preview in Google book search, accessed on October 19, 2015)