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A lightweight, inexpensive metal, tin was used for many items: teapots, plates, platters, trays, boxes, candle molds, lamps, sconces, foot warmers, lanterns, canisters, tea caddies, and so on. Much tinware was lacquered or painted, producing the colorful articles known as Japan ware and tole ware.
Before buying painted tin, inspect it to see whether the decorations are of old lacquer which will appear slightly worn, the colors softened by age, and possibly crazed; or whether the paint job is a new one, possibly hiding some far-from-old tinware.
There is a distinction between cast iron and wrought iron that is easily discerned, yet few people seem to know the difference. The very titles are descriptive of the processes which produce them: cast iron is iron which has been cast into a mold, and wrought iron has been made by various hand processes. There is, however, still a further distinction. Wrought iron can be obtained in thin bars then bent and twisted into elaborate designs (the Spanish made beautiful gates like this, and a modern example is the common porch railing), or it can be forged from a bar of iron, worked via hammer and anvil until it has been coaxed into the desired form-this is true hand-wrought iron and is the most highly prized. Unless iron is hand forged it cannot be called "hand wrought" even though it is wrought iron. It would be just as sensible to call all twisted iron hand wrought as it would be to call all dresses handmade just because someone had to cut the pattern and pin the fittings by hand, doing only the actual sewing on the machine; or as one television comedian recently stated, "All my clothes are hand tailored-that means my tailor has hands."
Some time ago while buying used lumber to build a tool shed, I spied a handmade nail on the ground. The man in charge of the yard said they had razed several very old houses, didn't want the old nails, and to "take as many as you want." I felt terribly foolish picking up nails amid the rubble (not to mention the danger, for it was summer and I was wearing sandals), but it was worth while. Now those same nails, clean but still crooked, support a collection of hand-wrought trivets above the stove where they are convenient for the constant use they receive.
Iron antiques are to be found making up fireplace equipment, andirons, cranes, trammels, pot hooks, toasters, pots, griddles, cauldrons, as well as sad irons, foot scrapers, candlesticks, candle stands, lamps, weather vanes, snuffers, wick-trimmers, extinguishers, curling irons, wall brackets of many kinds, and much early hardware. Rust is no deterrent to acquiring antiques made of iron. It is easy to clean rust from old iron: rubbing with steel wool and kerosene will take off most rust; stubborn spots may have to be soaked in the kerosene for an hour first, then wiped dry and oil applied. Allow the oil to soak in for a few days, then wipe off whatever remains. With utensils that you wish to use for cooking, wash well with soap and water after the kerosene-steelwool treatment, dry carefully, and coat lightly with salad oil. Iron must be dried thoroughly after each washing or else it will rust again.