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TITLE
John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (11 of 39)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_SILVERSMITH_11
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1970s
CREATOR
John Fraser
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2230
KEYWORDS
jewellery
jewelry
craftsman
craftsmen
metalwork
silversmiths
audio

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John Fraser, an Inverness silversmith, served his apprenticeship in the 1930s with Medlock and Craik, watchmakers and jewellers at 6 Bridge Street, Inverness. The firm later had premises in Exchange Place, and Queensgate.

In this audio extract from the 1970s, Mr Fraser remembers working with the raw material - sheet silver and billets of silver. The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's silver pieces - a Clan Fraser badge with the motto, 'Je Suis Prest' (I Am Ready).

'You got sheet, you know, you bought your sheet sort of soft, half hard, hard, bright rolled now - you couldn't get that in those days, in the 30s. Now you can buy silver bright rolled, you can buy it in different colours. You can always - You can buy it, for instance, for deep spinning; you can buy it for drawing and seamless tube; you can buy it in a lot more different forms from what you could buy it in those days. In those days, of course, you didn't bother.

For instance, in wire and things like that, you bought a billet or, if you had silver scrap, you melted it down. You had the facilities - you always had a small furnace down below, in a basement - and you melted it down and you purified it yourself with borax and then you just ran it into a skillet and you had a billet of silver, you know? And then you could hammer the billet, which was square, into a round, a rough round, like a pencil, and put a long point on it, and then for wire, half round wire, triangle wire, square wire - all different types of wire - but plain wire, there was no pattern on it - you could take that and put it on a draw bench and then draw it through steel plates.

Now you could have a steel plate with just the ordinary steel holes in it or you could have a steel plate with agate holes, lined, inside each little hole you would have an agate insert, and that would give you what you called a 'bright' finished wire. I think the term they used in those days was 'Turk's Head' and that was if you wanted a very bright wire, and it was taken through the agate to - and you would probably pay, you know, two or three pence extra for doing that'

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John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (11 of 39)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1970s

jewellery; jewelry; craftsman; craftsmen; metalwork; silversmiths; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: John Fraser, Silversmith

John Fraser, an Inverness silversmith, served his apprenticeship in the 1930s with Medlock and Craik, watchmakers and jewellers at 6 Bridge Street, Inverness. The firm later had premises in Exchange Place, and Queensgate. <br /> <br /> In this audio extract from the 1970s, Mr Fraser remembers working with the raw material - sheet silver and billets of silver. The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's silver pieces - a Clan Fraser badge with the motto, 'Je Suis Prest' (I Am Ready).<br /> <br /> 'You got sheet, you know, you bought your sheet sort of soft, half hard, hard, bright rolled now - you couldn't get that in those days, in the 30s. Now you can buy silver bright rolled, you can buy it in different colours. You can always - You can buy it, for instance, for deep spinning; you can buy it for drawing and seamless tube; you can buy it in a lot more different forms from what you could buy it in those days. In those days, of course, you didn't bother. <br /> <br /> For instance, in wire and things like that, you bought a billet or, if you had silver scrap, you melted it down. You had the facilities - you always had a small furnace down below, in a basement - and you melted it down and you purified it yourself with borax and then you just ran it into a skillet and you had a billet of silver, you know? And then you could hammer the billet, which was square, into a round, a rough round, like a pencil, and put a long point on it, and then for wire, half round wire, triangle wire, square wire - all different types of wire - but plain wire, there was no pattern on it - you could take that and put it on a draw bench and then draw it through steel plates. <br /> <br /> Now you could have a steel plate with just the ordinary steel holes in it or you could have a steel plate with agate holes, lined, inside each little hole you would have an agate insert, and that would give you what you called a 'bright' finished wire. I think the term they used in those days was 'Turk's Head' and that was if you wanted a very bright wire, and it was taken through the agate to - and you would probably pay, you know, two or three pence extra for doing that'