Nails for Historical Archaeologists

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Compiled By David Moyer
This Version: May, 2002

For Correction, Comments, or additions, please contact:

David Moyer, RPA
Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist
700 Clinton Street Building
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52240
Phone: (319) 335-5702

Adams, William Hampton (n.d.)
Machine Cut Nails and Wire Nails: American Production and Use for Dating 19th Century Sites Unpublished manuscript.

(n.d.) Source Analysis for American Importation of Nails, 1790-1819 Unpublished manuscript.

Adamson, Rolf (1969)
Swedish Iron Exports To The United States, 1783-1860. Scandinavian Economic History Review 17(1): 58-114.

Alan Wood Steel Company (1939)
Reading Cut Nails Product brochure, Conshohocken, Pa. On file at the Library of the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

American Architect and Building News (1876)
Nails American Architect and Building News 1:296.

American Steel and Wire Company (n.d.)
Steel Wire Nails: A Short History of the Origin and Growth of the Steel Wire Nail Industry in the United States and the Connection of the American Wire Nail Company Therewith. American Steel and Wire Company, Worcester Massachusetts.

Arnold, John P. (1947)
How Old is an Old House? American Home 37(6):94-101.

Avery, Paul G. (2002)
How Many 9-Penny Nails Can You Buy for a Dollar?: Using Wire Nails as a Dating Tool for Historic Sites. Paper presented at the Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Mobile, AL.

Baakes, Michael (1896)
The History of the American Wire Nail Industry. The Iron Age 57:105-106.

Ball, Donald B.(1999)
Toward Advancing Nail Patterning Studies and Structural Identification on Historic Archaeological Sites. Ohio Valley Historical Archaeology 14:1-22.

Ball, Ephraim (1886)
The Hand-Made Nail Trade. In Resources, Products and Industrial History of Birmingham and the Midlands Hardware District, edited by Samuel Timmins. Robert Hardwicke, London.

Bear, James A., Jr. (1957)
Mr. Jefferson's Nails. The Magazine of Albemarle County History 16:47-53.

Benson, Donna L. (1983)
A Taxonomy for Square Cut Nails. The Conference on Historic Site Archaeology Papers, editor Stanley South, vol. 15, pp. 123-152. Institute of Archeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Bigg, Ada Heather (1886)
Female Labour in the Nail Trade. Fortnightly Review New Series 39: 829

Bischof, Fred (1983)
Analysis of Selected English Camp and American Camp Nails. In San Juan Archaeology, Roderick Sprague, editor, pp. 759-762. Moscow.

Blackall, C.H. (1888)
Builder's Hardware-III. Nails. American Architect and Building News 24(660):72-74.

Bock, Gordon (1995)
The Striking Facts about Cut Nails. Old-House Journal 23(5): 60-63.

Bodey, Hugh (1983)
Nailmaking Haverfordwest, G.B.: Shire Album No. 87.

Brooklyn Wire Nail Company (1885)
Illustrated Catalog Brooklyn Wire Nail Company, Brooklyn.

Brown, Debora K. (1980)
The Role of Historical Archaeology, Retrospect and Prospect : An Examination of American Blacksmithing. Unpublished B.A. honors thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence. [Analyses nails recovered in a 1979 excavation in New Chelsea, Kansas].

Buggey, Susan (1976)
A Most Significant Reference Document: A List of Nails and Spikes Required for the Service of the Office of Ordnance, 17 March 1813 excerpted from Supplying Building Materials to the British Army in the Colonies: An Illustrated Document Association For The Preservation of Technology Bulletin 8(3):88-118.

Burchardt, Jørgen (1999)
Historiens lange tråd. NKT Trådværket 1899-1999. [History of the largest Danish Nail Producer. Available for 250 Dkr (around $25) + postage from the Middelfart Museum ]

Business Week (1953)
Nailing Down their Market: Aluminum Nails. Business Week February 21:44.

Canadian Engineer (1901)
Something About Wire Nails. The Canadian Engineer 8(20):474-475.

Chaplin, J.R. (1860)
Among the Nail-Makers. Harper's New Monthly Magazine 21(122):145-164.

Coble, Wendy M. (1998)
Nail Conservation and Analysis: A Study in Correlative Dating. Paper presented at the Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Atlanta, GA.

Cooke, Lawrence S. (1961)
Nail Rod and Some of its Byproducts. The Chronicle of Early American Industries 14(1):6-7.

Crawford, S. (1967)
The Nailers of Warrenpoint. Ulster Folklife 13: 79-80.

Davidson, Ruth Bradbury (1949)
The ABC's of Nails and Screws. The Magazine Antiques 55(3):188-189.

DeValinger, Leon, Jr. (1960)
Nail-Making Devices at the Delaware State Museum. The Chronicle of Early American Industries 13(2):17.

Diderot, Denis (1765)
Recel de Planches sur les Sciences, les Arts liberaux, et les Arts Mechaniques, Aves Leur Explication. Paris.

Didsbury, J. (1959)
The French Method of Nailmaking. Early American Industries Association Chronicle 12(2):47-48. Replies and comments published in the Chronicle 13(2), June 1960.

Drepperd, Carl (1945)
Spikes, Nails, Tacks, Brads and Pins. The Chronicle of Early American Industries 2(4):69.

Dove, A. (1971)
Manufacture of Nails: The Diagnostic Attributes. Unpublished Manuscript.

Dunbar, Michael (1993)
Design Details: Nail Varieties. Early American Life 24(2): 66.

Early American Industries Association (1961)
Nail headers. The Chronicle of Early American Industries 14(3):36.

Early American Life (1971)
NAILS - How Tremont Duplicates History. Early American Life 2(3): 14-17.

Edgerton, Charles E. (1897)
The Wire-Nail Association of 1895-96. Political Science Quarterly 12(2):246-272.

Edwards, J., and T. Wells (1993)
Historic Louisiana Nails: Aids to the Dating of Old Buildings The Fred B. Kniffen Cultural Resources Laboratory monograph series, No. 2., Geoscience Publications, Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Epstien, S.M. (1981)
A Coffin Nail from the Slave Cemetery at Catoctin, Maryland. MASCA Journal, Vol. 1, No. 7, The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Fasteners (1971)
The Heritage of Mechanical Fasteners, Part Three. Fasteners 26(1):4-7.

Fontana, Bernard L. (1965)
The Tale of a Nail: On the Ethnological Interpretation of Historic Artifacts. Florida Anthropologist 18(3)(part 2):85-111.

Fontana, Bernard L., Cameron Greenleaf, Charles Ferguson, Robert Wright and Doris Frederick (1962)
Johnny Ward's Ranch. The Kiva 29(1-2):1-115.

Frear, J.B. (1920)
Nails and Nailing. Manual Training 21:199-203.

Fremont, Charles (1912)
Le clou. Société pour l'Encouragement de l'Industrie Nationale, Bulletin 111:193-221, 36-97, 522-48, 672-700, 808-28.

Frurip, David J., Russell Malewicki and Donald P. Heldman (1983)
Colonial Nails from Fort Michilimackinac: Differentiation by Chemical and Statistical Analysis. Archaeological Completion Report Series No.7, Mackinac Island State Park Commission, Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Geselowitz, Michael N., et al. (1991)
For Want of a Nail: Archaeomettalurgy and Dating in Historical Archaeology. In Metals and Society: Theory Beyond Analysis, Robert M. Ehrenreich, ed., pp. 45-55, MASACA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology, Volume 8, Part 2.

Gillio, David, Frances Levine, and Douglas Scott (1980)
Some Common Artifacts Found at Historical Sites Cultural Resource Report 31. USDA, Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Albuquerque.

Gilmour, K. (1976)
On the Trail of the Nail. The Occasional, Vol. 3, No. 3, Nova Scotia Museums, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Goodman, W. L. (1973)
Bristol Carpenters' Nails, 1492-1586. Mariner's Mirror 59(4): 437-441

Government Printing Office (1886)
Adhesion of Nails, Spikes and Screws in Various Woods, Experiments on the Resistance of Cut Nails, Wire Nails (Steel), Spikes, Wood Screws, Lag Screws. In Report of the Tests of Metals and Other Materials for the Industrial Purposes Made with U.S. Testing Machine at Waterton Arsenal, Massachusetts, 1884, pp.448-471. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Graells, Eudald (1972)
La Industria dels Claus a Ripoll Fundacio Salvador Vives Casajuana., Barcelona.

Graves, W.D. (1909)
Driving of a Nail. Scientific American 100:428.

Grimshaw, Robert (1909)
Wire Nail Fallacies: Limits for Users and Manufacturers. Scientific American Supplement 67:179.

Gunton (1900)
Nail Prices and Profits. Gunton 18:177-179.

Hansotte, Georges (1972)
La Clouterie Liegeoise et la Question Ouviere as XVIII Siecle. Editions de la Librarie Encyclopedique, Bruxelles.

Harris, M. (1919)
Nails Made from Tin Scraps. American Machinist 51:665.

Hazard, C. (1930)
Nailer Tom's Diary Otherwise The Journal of Thomas B.Hazard of Kingstown, Rhode Island, 1778 to 1840 The Merrymount Press, Boston.

Heite, E.F. (1969)
A Question of Nail Sizes. Archaeological Society of Virginia Quarterly Bulletin 24(1):79.

Hibbs, Charles H. (1973)
Holding It All Together: The Development of Nail Utilization in the HBS Columbia Region Mimeographed leaflet, Archaeology laboratory, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Vancouver, Washington.

Hodges, John (1966)
Nails, 1869 Style. Saskatchewan Archaeology Newsletter 13:12-13.

Hunt's Merchant Magazine (1860)
The Manufacture of Nails. Hunt's Merchant Magazine 42:751.

(1861) To Coat Iron Nails with Tin. Hunt's Merchant Magazine 44(1):124-125.

Inashima, Paul Y. (1994)
Technical Notes on Nails. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia 49(1):46-48.

Iron Age (1915)
New Machine for Making Wire Nails. Iron Age 95:792-793.

(1917) Sleeper and Hartley Wire Nail Machines. Iron Age 97:1379.

(1920) Ryerson-Glader Wire Nail Machine. Iron Age 105:884.

Iron Trade Review (1922)
Machine Produces Wire Nails Rapidly. Iron Trade Review 70:975.

Jensen, Norman Christian (1983)
Railroad Date Nails: Collecting for Fun Norell Press, Alpine, Texas.

Jensen, Robert (1971)
Board and Batten Siding and the Balloon Frame: Their Incompatibility in the 19th Century. Journal of the Society for Architectural Historians 30(1):41-50.

Joyce, James M. (1985)
Railroad Spikes: A Collector's Guide Sutter House, Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Jurney, David (1987)
Cut and Wire Nails: Functional and Temporal Interpretations. In Historic Buildings, Material Culture, and the People of the Prairie Margin, edited by David Jurney and Randall Moir, pp. 83-96. Richland Creek Technical Series 5. Archaeology Research Program, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

(1988) Cut and Wire Nails, Functional and Temporal Interpretations. In Historic Farming on the Hogwallow Prairies, compiled by David H. Jurney, Susan A. Lebo, and Melissa M. Green, pp. 315-324. Joe Pool Lake Archaeological Project, Vol. II. Archaeology Research Program, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

Keene, John T. (1972)
The Nail Making Industry in Early Virginia. The Chronicle of Early American Industries 25(1):759-767.

Knight, Donald P., Royal A. Stone, Maurice W. Williams, Arthur L. Wasserman and Frank H. Wood (1922)
Design of Combined Steam and Hydro-electric Power Plant for Tremont Nail Company, Tremont, Massachusetts. Unpublished B.S. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Cambridge.

Larrabee, Edward (1968)
Machine Made Nails from a War of 1812 Site at Sackett's Harbor, New York. The Conference on Historic Site Archaeology Papers, 1967, 2(1):72-84. University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Leach, Almon E. (2000)
Nail Identification at Old Fort Niagara. Bulletin and Journal of the New York State Archaeological Association 116: 35-50.

Lenik, Edward J. (1977)
A Study of Cast Iron Nails. Historical Archaeology 11:45-47.

Lewis, Joseph W. (1973)
Date Nails, Brought Up to Date P and G Press, Nacogdoches, Texas.

Literary Digest (1914)
Box-Nailing: Driving and Clinching Nails in Twin and three Ply Boards. Literary Digest 48:431.

Loveday, Amos J., Jr. (1980)
The Cut Nail Industry 1776-1890: Technology, Cost Accounting of the Upper Ohio Valley Ohio State University, Columbus.

Loveday, Amos J., Gary L. Brown, Eugene S. Fergusen, Carolyn C. Cooper and Roger H. Grant. (1983)
The Rise and Decline of the American Cut Nail Industry: A Study of the Interrelationships of Technology, Business Organization and Management Techniques Greenwood Press, Westport Connecticut.

Michael, Ronald L. (1974)
Cut Nail Manufacture: Southwestern Pennsylvania. Association for Preservation Technology Bulletin 6(1):99-108.

Mosley, A.F. (1968)
The Nailmakers. Journal of West Midland Regional Studies 2:31-36.

Nelson, Lee H. (1961)
Eighteenth Century Framing Devices with Special Emphasis on Early Cut Nails, Mimeographed leaflet, Historic Structures Training Conference, July 28. National Park Service, Eastern Office of Design and Construction, Philadelphia.

(1963) Nail Chronology as an Aid to Dating Old Buildings. History News 19(2)

(1968) Nail Chronology as an Aid to Dating Old Buildings. Technical Leaflet 48. American Association for State and Local History, Nashville.

(1991) How Hand-Wrought Nails Were Made From Bar Iron in the 18th Century. CRM 14(4):18-19.

Nelson, Lee H. and Penelope Hartshorne (1963)
Nail Chronology as an Aid to Dating Old Buildings and Paint Color Research and Restoration. History News 19(2).

Noel Hume, Ivor (1972)
A Guide to the Artifacts of Colonial America Alfred A Knopf, New York.

Oaks, Jeff (1999)
Date Nails and Railroad Tie Preservation. Special Report no. 3, University of Indianapolis Archeology and Forensics Laboratory, Indianapolis. Available from:

Parker, George A. (1897)
The Holding Power of Nails in Different Kinds of Wood. Unpublished thesis, State Agricultural College, Michigan State University.

Patrick, Bob (1977)
The Old Way of Making Nails. Early American Life 8(5): 42-43.

Perley, Sidney (1901)
The Manufacture of Nails in Essex County, Massachusetts. Essex Antiquarian 2(5).

Phillips, Maureen K. (1989)
A Revised Chronology of Cut Nails in New England 1790-1820: A Case Study from the Spencer-Pierce-Little House Addition Unpublished Master's thesis, Boston University.

(1994) Mechanic Geniuses and Duckies, A Revision of New England's Cut-Nail Chronology. Association for the Preservation of Technology Bulletin 25(3-4): 4-16.

(1996) Geniuses and Duckies Redux: Nail Makers and Their Machines. Association for the Preservation of Technology Bulletin 27(1-2): 47-56.

Preservation News (1967)
1819 Company Produces Cut Nails. Preservation News 7:6.

Polhemus, Richard R. (2002)
Another Nail Biter: Nail Form and Function at the Tellico Blockhouse. Paper presented at the Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Mobile, AL.

Priess, Peter (1970)
Penny Wise, Penny Foolish: The Description of Nail Sizes. The Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter 3(3):8-9.

(1972) Building Hardware from the Fort at Coteau du Lac Manuscript Report 93, National Historic Sites Service, Parks Canada, Ottawa.

(1973) Wire Nails in North America. Association for the Preservation of Technology Bulletin 5(4):87-92.

(1974) Wire Nails in North America. Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter 7(1):22-28.

(1978) An Annotated Bibliography for the Study of Building Hardware History and Archaeology Monograph No. 21, Parks Canada, Ottawa.

Priess, Peter J., and P. Michael Shaughnessy (1972)
An Inventory of Canadian, British and American Nail Patents to 1900 National Parks and Sites Branch Manuscript Report Series 93. Parks Canada, Ottawa.

Republic Steel Corporation (n.d.)
Republic Nails and other Wire Products Republic Steel Corporation, Chicago.

Riddick, Wallace Carl (1890)
Experiments on Static and Dynamic Stresses in Nails. Unpublished C.E. thesis, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.

Ross, Simeon (1974)
Nails, Being a Compilation of Information on Nails and Nailmaking from Diverse Sources. Pamphlet prepared as a complement to a talk before the Early Trades and Crafts Society, 2/26/74. On file at the Early American Industries Association Library.

Rothman, Margaret L. and Karen Jo Walker (1981)
The Nail Typology. In Bay Springs Mill: Historical Archaeology of a Rural Mississippi Cotton Milling Community, by William Hampton Adams, Steven D. Smith, David F. Barton, Timothy B. Riordan, and Stephen Poyser, pp. 346-60. National Technical Information Service, Washington, D.C.

Scientific American (1900a)
The Belgian Nail Industry. Scientific American Supplement 49:20439.

(1900b) Objection to Wire Nails. Scientific American 82(12):188.

(1903) Steel Wire and Nail Making. Scientific American 89(24):436-438.

(1924) Story of Steel Rolling Wire Rods, Drawing Wire and Making Nails. Scientific American 131:252-253.

(1960) Novel Nail-forming Machine. Scientific American 83:20.

Smith, H.R. Bradley (1966)
Chronological Development of Nails Supplement to Blacksmiths' and Farriers' Tools at Shelburne Museum. Shelburne Museum Bulletin 189.

Sprague, Paul E. (1983)
Chicago Balloon Frame: The Evolution During the 19th Century of George W. Snow's System for Erecting Light Frame Buildings from Dimension Lumber and Machine-made Nails In The Technology of Historic American Buildings: Studies of the Materials, Craft Processes, and the Mechanization of Building Construction. H. Ward Jandl, ed., pp. 35-61. The Foundation for Preservation Technology for the Association for Preservation Technology Washington, D.C.

Swank's Iron in All Ages (1885)
The Manufacture of Nails. Magazine of American History 14 (July-December):100.

Vanes, Benjamin (1841)
A Treatise on the British Nail Trade in Which the Transactions of the Workmen and Masters are Thoroughly Considered, Also the Buying, Selling or Bargaining Between Manufacturers Factors, Iron-mongers, Merchants, etc. to Whose Use it is Particularly Adapted. The Rod and Wire Gauges Explained by sixty-fourths of an Inch. Hamilton, Adams and Company, London.

Walker, Karen Jo (1980)
Fasteners. In Waverly Plantation: Ethnoarchaeology of a Tenant Farming Community, edited by William H. Adams, pp. 543-52. National Technical Information Service, Washington, D.C.

Wells, Tom (1993)
Nail Dating: Identifying Chronologially Significant Features on Nails Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Geography, Louisiana State University.

Wiswell, Glenn and John Evans (1976)
Date Nails Complete Wiswell, Cedar Grove, New Jersey.

Woodridge, (Mrs) (1981)
Unusual Nails. SPAB News 2(4): 58.

Young, Amy L. (1991)
Nailing Down the Pattern in Historical Archaeology Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

(1994a) Spatial Patterning on an Nineteenth Century Appalachian Houselot: Evidence from Nail Analysis. Southeastern Archaeology 13(1):56-63.

(1994b) Nailing Down the Pattern. Tennessee Anthropologist 19(1):1-21.

Young, Amy L. and Philip J. Carr (1989a)
Building Middle Range Theory in Historical Archaeology with Nails Paper presented at the Symposium on Ohio Valley Urban and Historic Archaeology, Cincinnati.

(1989b) Building Middle Range Research for Historical Archaeology with Nails. Ohio Valley Historical Archaeology 7/8:1-8.

For Correction, Comments, or additions, please contact:

David Moyer, RPA
Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist
700 Clinton Street Building
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52240
Phone: (319) 335-5702

This page © David Moyer, 2000-2002. All rights reserved.
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