Aug 16, 2011

Gold and Silver Wire and Thread Drawers at Work - 1873

Photographer: Shivashanker Narayen

The tinsel wires are made of silver, or silver coated with gold leaf, and made into a bar, which is then forced through a series of holes on a steel plate to obtain increasingly fine-gauged lengths. Traditionally the wire was then wound onto a reel, as seen in the photograph, attached at the other end to a jantar, another steel plate, which allowed for further refining of the gauge. Wires no thicker than a hair were obtained this way. A tola (180 grains of metal) usually produced 600 to 1,200 yards of wire. This product is used, sometimes together with silk, in a wide range of articles and garments. Examples of all the following were sent to the Vienna exhibition: turbans, saris, dresses, shoes, fringing, gold and silver lace, shawls, rugs and tablecloths. It was held that metal threads from India were less likely to tarnish than similar products from other sources.

Source: British Library