Thursday, 9 October 2014

Indian Metallurgy as Described by Hon. W. Egerton in his Handbook of Indian Arms - 1880

An Illustrated Handbook of Indian Arms – Hon. W. Egerton

My latest acquisition!


Classified and Descriptive Catalogue of the Arms Exhibited at the India Museum
Published 1880.

When in 1855, Egerton began to form a catalogue on Arms in India, he found the want of information of Indian weapons or their manufacture, and he accumulated a certain mass of information, which he ventured to present it the current form as a catalogue.

His description of the metallurgy that India was so famous at that time will make all of us proud of what had been achieved at that time.


Making of Crude Iron

Mr. Wilkinson, whose practical acquaintance with the best weapons at that time, rendered him to be the highest authority on the subject. His observations;

The furnace is of a rude description, being composed of stones and mud or clay. The iron ore is reduced to a coarse powder. The furnace being filled with charcoal, the fire is urged by two bellows, each mage of a single goat skin, and furnished with a bamboo nozzle, until no moisture is given out; a small basket full of ore is then poured in at the top, and a large basket full of charcoal, and so on alternately. The scoria begins to run in about an hour, but no flux is employed. In about six hours the process is finished.

The crude iron thus obtained had never been really melted, but falls by its weight to the bottom of the furnace, where the grains agglutinate; in this state it is often malleable. The wall of the furnace is broken down, the red hot mass is dragged out and divided into pieces, which are sold to the black smiths and forged into small bars.


I will inform the method adopted to make steel at that time, and this will be in my next post!

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