Colonial Nails from Michilimackinac: Differentiation by Statistical Analysis

Colonial Nails from Michilimackinac: Differentiation by Statistical Analysis

Archaeological Completion Report Series
Number 7

From the book: “Because of the profusion of wrought nails at colonial and early American archaeological sites of the sixteenth through the early nineteenth centuries, it is surprising that no method to determine their national origin and time span has been developed for them. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that, unlike other artifacts, a forged nail found on the Acropolis in Greece differs little in form and appearance from one fount at Fort Michilimackinac. Owing strictly to their utilitarian purpose, nails have no decoration to aid in identification. Nor were any stamped with a date or manufacturer’s name or initials. Moreover, there are few discernable style changes over long periods of time …

A small step toward a nail typology is presented here, for the purpose of the following report is to describe some preliminary results of a successful research effort to differentiate between French and British hand-forged nails of the eighteenth century. Because of difficulties in typing nails on the basis of physical attributes the techniques presented here are necessarily and technologically more sophisticated. … They involve chemical microanalyses of nails, followed by a statistical analysis of the data. From the outset of research it was hypothesized that chemical differences in nails would reflect differences in iron smelting and forging methods in France and Britain, or natural chemical differences in iron ore sources in each of the two countries. The major finding of the study is that differences in iron ore sources in both Britian and France, and possibly beyond, may be detected in nails. …”

“(A) viable technique for establishing the cultural origins of colonial wrought-iron nails.” – J.H. Westbrook Journal of Industrial Archaeology

Author: Written by David J. Fruipp, Russell Malewicki, and Donald P. Heldman
ISBN: 0-911872-47-7
Illustrations, tables, bibliography 83 pages, 1983 Softbound A05
Price: $4.25