Accession number: 1983.04.01c
Date: 1897 – 1970
Measurements: 56.5 cm L x 6 cm W x 2.7 cm H
Narrative: This pair of tongs was used in a blacksmith shop run by A. J. Smeltzer. The shop was located at what is today (November 2006) 602 Sackville Drive in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. These tongs were left in memory of Bert (A. J.) and Alice Smeltzer, and their family. In 1897, A. J. Smeltzer moved from Halifax to Lower Sackville with his parents at the age of two. When he was older, Smeltzer became a blacksmith and worked out of a shop located on Sackville Drive. It is believed that he likely learned his trade from second generation blacksmith John Robert Ellis (1843 - 1916) who was taught by his father John Wilbert Ellis (1803 - 1884) who established his trade in Sackville after moving from Chester. He was well known in the community, and had earned the reputation of forging the "perfect horseshoe" even though he was not known to have shoed a horse during his career. Smeltzer worked at this trade for fifty years and the shop which was centrally located in the community was a gathering place for young and old who came to watch the blacksmith at his forge. Later, Smeltzer became an active member of his community in the business, education, safety, religious, and political spheres. Tongs were used to hold metal over coals and for bending metal. Tongs can vary in length form fifteen inches (used to complete light work) to thirty-six inches (used to lift heavy pieces from the fire and keep the blacksmith's hands away from the "searing heat of white-hot metal"). Tongs vary most in the shapes of their "jaws" - the "short section forward of the rivet which holds the two tongs together and allows them to pivot." They can be straight, curved, square, "t" shaped, or entirely unique in shape to the type of objects they are designed to pick up. As a result, blacksmiths tend to make and use several different types of tongs to adapt his tools to his needs at any given time. These types include, but are not limited to, straight, pickup, box, semi-box, side, hammer, bolt, wedge, and plow.
Description: This pair of tongs consists of two long, round metal handles - one is broken and is half as long as the other. The broken end is also much darker in color. At the top is a pivoting bolt with a rounded gripping claw on one side and a broken claw on the other.