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Medium-sized nails run from 80,000 to 120,000 to the ton, and I have before me some beautifully-formed carpet nails, with large flat heads, of which a single ton of steel will make 3,870,000.
It is an interesting fact that at the International Exhibition of 1862, I exhibited the first steel nails that were ever made.
Fremont states that the first industrial production of wire nails in France began in 1819, although not using the machine patented by White which is characterized as being better known for its ingenuity then its strength and not capable of withstanding the rigorous demands of continuous production.
By 1840 machine made wire nails were being produced by a number of Paris manufacturers and wire nail machines were being exhibited at the Paris Exhibitions of 18 and at the London Exhibition of 1851.
Even at the end of the 19th century a British dictionary still considered it appropriate to state that “there are three leading distinctions of iron nails as respects the modes of manufacture, wrought, cut, and cast”.
The beginning of wire nail manufacture in North America is often given as 1851 and is attributed to William Hassall or Thomas Morton or Adolph Browne.
According to Swank “the wire nail as a substitute for the cut nail did not, however, come into notice in this country until…1883 or 1884”, based on information provided by the American Wire Nail Company.
Among these early patents is one registered in 1811 by James White, an American resident of Paris, for a machine which would cut head and point a nail in one operation.The association of early production in North America with the use of wire nails in building construction is probably limited.It is generally noted that the early types of wire nail were small and intended for such uses as cigar boxes, furniture or upholstering.The technology for wire nails apparently originated in France early in the 19th century.It is interesting to note that the early technology for the manufacture of pins from wire with a wound head, dating back to the 16th century, was not transferred to the manufacture of nails although the present day manufacture of nails and pins bear some resemblance to each other.
The machine exhibited in 1844 is also illustrated by Laboulaye, and consists of a relatively sophisticated hand-cranked apparatus which cut, headed and pointed a nail from a coil of wire by a turn of the crank.