The exhibition is presented in the building “Næsshuset” and is a large collection of knives forged by local smiths in Tinn, who gained a wide reputation for their craftsmanship in the 19th century. Here you can learn about smiths and their trade, maker’s marks, shafts, sheaths and the man behind the craft.
In 2006 Tinn Sparebank purchased a large collection of knives from the collector Gunnstein Berge in Seljord. In 2008 they celebrated their 150th anniversary and the collection was a gift from the bank to the museum.
The collection contains 206 knives crafted by local smiths. Made by a total of 95 smiths, where the oldest knife can be traced back to 1728 and the youngest to 1960. On 3 of the 206 knives the maker’s mark has faded away, thus making its maker unknown to us. The smiths changed their mark with the years and in this collection there are over 146 different marks. 13 of these 146 marks are “new” – in the manner of that they are not documented with a picture in the smith book “The Tinndøl Smith through the Years” (1987) by Tore Fæhn and Sigmund Holte.
The Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum/Tinn Museum dedicated the two knife-specialists in Tinn, Tore Fæhn and Sigmund Holte, to a thorough review of the collection. They have vast knowledge about scythe- and knife production, gathered through many years of experience with smith-history in Tinn. Their work, together with Gunnstein Berge’s registry, makes it possible to present a fair amount of information about smiths, knives and sheaths.
The collection contains a few blades that have not been grinded, a few blades with shaft and many completed knives, these are blades with shafts and sheaths to each individual knife.
The exhibition displays the early iron extraction in Tinn, information about burning coal and the extensive art of crafting scythes in the 19th century.
Tinn was a district focused around iron. Large quantities of bog ore was burned in special-built ovens and reshaped into iron, an especially valuable trade item. The people who operated this production were professionals and the production lasted for many centuries. This industry is well documented by Irmelin Martens and Martens concludes that the reshaping began around year 550 and ended sometime in the 14th century. It is likely that the large iron extraction secured prosperity for the locals in Tinn and the other mountain-districts around Telemark.
For the manufacturing of iron they needed large amounts of charcoal, and a huge production of coal ran simultaneously with the extraction of iron. Burning coal required knowledge and it provided an appreciated income next to farming and hunting in the mountain-districts. The so called coal-pits are memories left after this production and they can be found everywhere in the outlying areas in the district. In the fields south of Sjøtveit in Tinn one has found approximately 50 coal-pits within a limited area. Some of these were inspected by archaeologists in 2002. They concluded that coal had been produced here between 1290 and 1500.
The smiths also required coal as one of the raw materials for their production, so the burning of charcoal is a tradition in Tinn that has lasted until today. The extremely comprehensive forging in Tinn took place in the 19th century and it is the famous scythe-forging that is the primary focus. The local scythes were known for their incredible quality and the production became extensive. It was an important supplementary income in agricultural Tinn.
The production of coal took place between 1400 and up until 1700. The production itself raises a question that we have been unable to answer. Did production of iron occur here to a later date than the archaeologists have claimed? Did the locals begin forging in large quantities earlier than we have anticipated? It is impossible to know for certain. Only a thoroughly executed research could possibly give us the answers we seek.
This exhibition is a collection of photographs from 1903 until 1910, by the known photographer K.G. Asland from Tinn. We can see pictures from the daily life, exciting building traditions and of the people who lived here. As a supplement to many of these photographs we display another picture taken in 2003. This shows how the cultural landscape and the structures have changed through the century that has passed. The exhibition can be found in the “Næsshuset”-building.