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Working Life


A nail-making bench in Dalton smithy



G.H. Moffat pointing to a nail-making bench, Dalton. Dr Werner Kissling, 1957.


This photograph is of blacksmith G.H. Moffat. He is standing over a bench, pointing to the block used for sharpening or 'pointing' nails.


More than a hundred years before this photograph was taken blacksmiths had to make their own nails. This was time consuming and meant that shoeing a horse might take all day.


In the 1950s, blacksmiths bought their nails from factories and only used these benches to sharpen them. This meant that they could work more quickly but that some skills were no longer used.


Dr Werner Kissling (1895-1988) was a German photographer and ethnographer who spent most of his life documenting Scottish crafts, architecture, and agricultural practices. He was associated with Dumfries Museum from the mid-1950s until his death in 1988.


With thanks to the School of Scottish Studies Archives for additional information.

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
PP/KISSLING COLLECTION, blacksmithing/15
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Dumfries & Galloway Council