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TITLE
John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (16 of 39)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_SILVERSMITH_16
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1970s
CREATOR
John Fraser
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2238
KEYWORDS
jewellery
jewelry
craftsman
craftsmen
metalwork
silversmiths
annealing
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 recalls the advantages of hand-drawing silver wire. The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Luckenbooth brooch, sometimes known as a 'Mary' brooch because of the 'M' shape formed at the top of the heart. Luckenbooths were often worn as protective tokens. They took their name from the jewellery sold in the 'locked booths' in Edinburgh. Inverness had its own style, with loops known as 'double spectacles'.

'Now, if you took that wire through, another way you could do it is, if you had no half round draw plate,you could take the wire through, round, and you would have a - what is known as a, swaging block with half round impressions, going from a large impression, about a quarter of an inch wide, right down to perhaps a little less than an eighth of an inch. And you'd put your wire into that and you'd take a flat hammer and you would gradually push it through and flatten it and make it half round. We did that too, you know? And yet at the same time you could actually buy the wire half round.

But it gave you a tremendous - I don't know what it was - it gave you a much closer feeling for the actual metal in that shape, because you knew what to expect from it, and you knew what would happen to it. And another thing that you also knew for instance, little things, little details, like, for instance, if you had wire that was drawn through the plate and it was bright drawn and it was very hard and you hadn't annealed it, then you'd an awful job bending it round something, 'cos it was very springy, and you couldn't actually get it close enough. So you learnt, when you made wire yourself, that you could see it springing, you could see the spring coming into it, you could the strength coming back into it. Then you could see it getting brittle and the next thing you could see it breaking. You could see little cracks coming in all along the wire where you had drawn it too long and you hadn't heated it, you know? And then of course if you took it out of that, and you bent it round something, it just broke and each time you would do that with a new piece of wire, it just broke up. What you learnt from that, really, was that you annealed your wire'

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John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (16 of 39)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1970s

jewellery; jewelry; craftsman; craftsmen; metalwork; silversmiths; annealing; 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 recalls the advantages of hand-drawing silver wire. The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Luckenbooth brooch, sometimes known as a 'Mary' brooch because of the 'M' shape formed at the top of the heart. Luckenbooths were often worn as protective tokens. They took their name from the jewellery sold in the 'locked booths' in Edinburgh. Inverness had its own style, with loops known as 'double spectacles'.<br /> <br /> 'Now, if you took that wire through, another way you could do it is, if you had no half round draw plate,you could take the wire through, round, and you would have a - what is known as a, swaging block with half round impressions, going from a large impression, about a quarter of an inch wide, right down to perhaps a little less than an eighth of an inch. And you'd put your wire into that and you'd take a flat hammer and you would gradually push it through and flatten it and make it half round. We did that too, you know? And yet at the same time you could actually buy the wire half round. <br /> <br /> But it gave you a tremendous - I don't know what it was - it gave you a much closer feeling for the actual metal in that shape, because you knew what to expect from it, and you knew what would happen to it. And another thing that you also knew for instance, little things, little details, like, for instance, if you had wire that was drawn through the plate and it was bright drawn and it was very hard and you hadn't annealed it, then you'd an awful job bending it round something, 'cos it was very springy, and you couldn't actually get it close enough. So you learnt, when you made wire yourself, that you could see it springing, you could see the spring coming into it, you could the strength coming back into it. Then you could see it getting brittle and the next thing you could see it breaking. You could see little cracks coming in all along the wire where you had drawn it too long and you hadn't heated it, you know? And then of course if you took it out of that, and you bent it round something, it just broke and each time you would do that with a new piece of wire, it just broke up. What you learnt from that, really, was that you annealed your wire'