Don Keas
Staff Writer

Smoke Signals

Sep./Oct. '09

Bi-Monthly Magazine


A question was asked of Don Keas our Rep in Colorado about correct eating ware at an encampment a few years ago. Read his reply.

Here it is where I found this information years ago. "The Rendezvous Report" published by Marlis Simms, editor, Box 457, Glorieta, NM 87535. My research was thru the Graniteware Society and phone calls to Evelyn Welsh who is considered to be the expert on the subject. 

You need to read the whole article, but here are the main points. 

  1. Enameling has been an art form since it's development in ancient China and Egypt. In the 1850's it went from art to commerce.  
  2. In 1799 Sven Rinman obtained a patent for two methods of enameling kitchen utensils. 
  3. In 1839 Thomas and Charles Clarke applied for an enameling patent. Both Clarke and Rinman patents were European. 
  4. The earliest American patent is to Charles Stumer in 1848. Another to George Holley for "The Improvement in Enameling Cast Iron in 1857. 
  5. Enameling to the 1850's was done on cast iron, not tin ware. 
  6. The Niedringhaus Brothers began stamping out tin ware in 1862 and got a patent in 1876 for "The Improvement of Enameling Sheet-Iron Ware". 

The only way enamelware could have made it to the fur trade would have had to have been European imports and I have never seen any lists of such imports and I have not seen any lists of enamelware on goods either going to Rendezvous or to fur trade posts. If anyone can come up with some documentation that would differ from this, I would appreciate seeing it, but this is what I have found so far and it is not based on assumptions or conjecture. Considering the American patent dates and Army issues during the Civil War that list tin ware rather than enamelware is why I make the statement "that it would even be a stretch for use in Civil War reenactments". So I will reiterate my statement that "there was no enamelware used during the fur trade". Not even William Drummond Stewart's outfit lists enamelware and if anybody would have had it he would, especially at that late date in the fur trade. So if someone can prove by research that what I have found is wrong, please do so. In the meantime I will stick to tin, copper or cast-iron. I KNOW these are correct. 

How's that Brother Buck???

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