Book Reviews

Colonial Wrought Iron
The Sorber Collection

Colonial Wrought Iron, the Sorber Collection
by Don Plummer SkipJack Press, 1999, 256 pp., 505 photographs, $44 from BookMasters, 800-247-6553

One of the main points of interest at the ABANA National Blacksmith Conference in Asheville NC was the Sorber exhibit. Mr. Jim Sorber, now is his eighties, has bee a collector of colonial iron work most of his life. Much of his collection includes pieces of Pennsylvania Dutch and German American influence. After attending a lecture by Don Plummer on the Sorber exhibit, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sorber and Don Plummer. We discussed the pieces in the exhibit and Don's upcoming book on the Sorber collection. They both assured met that the book would cover many unusual wrought iron pieces from Mr. Sorber's lifetime of collecting and that it would be a must own reference book. I received my copy and it is everything they said it would be and more.

Don Plummer and Jim Sorber both come from blacksmithing backgrounds and Mr. Sorber was a successful contractor and restorer of old homes as well. This helps Don bring out many details that most people would overlook on the manufacture of the pieces. Details such as many fireplace cranes having a hoist added to lift heavy cook pots and whether a trivet was used for a smoothing iron or for a cook pot. Colonial Wrought Iron is written with the collector, reenactor, museum curator, and modern blacksmith in mind. It has a very interesting text about the manufacture and usage of the pieces with hundreds of clear pictures. Many of the pieces pictured even have close measurements from the originals. This book covers every imaginable group of usable iron utensil from the 18th and 19th century from simple tools to complex clock jacks. There is even an appendix in the back with over 160 blacksmith signatures from the Sorber collection. If you are a collector of wrought iron, recreate early wrought iron pieces in the forge, use replicas of the older piece while buckskining, or reenacting this book needs to be on your must read list.

Review by Buster Grubbs

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