Monday, January 30, 2017

Pin Money

In the popular CBS television show NCIS, analytical technology plays a major role in solving criminal mysteries. While we may not have Abby’s “Major” mass spectrometer to identify chemical composition of evidence, ...

My name tag does have a magnet and I am able to use it to determine ferrous (contains iron) versus non-ferrous materials.

This simple tool actually can help date early iron pins from later brass pins found in the Bemis papers used before staples to collate papers together.

Another simple tool uses the incredible magnification power of our scanner. Using the scanner as a  forensic tool we are able to magnify the head of the pins with much better imaging that a magnifying glass.

As we increase the magnification level, you can see the wide variety of pin head shapes we have been finding in the collection.

At a higher resolution you can see that the head of these early pins were actually wrapped around the straight wire shank. You can also see the rust that is another clue that these pins were made of iron.

In his famous book, “Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith uses the example of these hand made pins to discuss the possibilities of economic improvement.

These early pins were valuable and expensive. A number of years ago, I was part of a team exploring secret drawers and hidden compartments in early American furniture. Hidden inside the walls of this desk and bookcase were sliding panels.

... and inside the walls we found pins and needles wrapped in paper and fabric packets.

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