Blacksmiths at work at the Kumaon Iron Works in India. From left to right you can see the bellows, a basket of charcoal and a hammer. On the right in the foreground water for hardening.
Blacksmiths at work at the Kumaon Iron Works in India. From left to right you can see the bellows, a basket of charcoal and a hammer. On the right in the foreground water for hardening. Photo:Carl Gustaf Wittenström Public domain mark (CC pdm)

Carl Gustaf Wittenström's collection

Here we show a selection of photographs from the metallurgist Carl Gustaf Wittenström's archive which, among other things, show work at the construction of ironworks in India. His entire image collection can be found in our archive. Most of the pictures show life in India and were taken in the 1860s by Wittenström. Above, Indian blacksmiths at work at the Kumaon Iron Works in India. Their equipment was easy to move. From left to right, a worker is seen at the bellows, the blacksmith with a hammer and three other employees.

Gustaf Wittenström had traveled together with two other Swedes to India in the early 1860s to build an ironworks there. On his trip there, he purchased camera equipment in London and learned to photograph "so that in my spare moments I will take memories of this delightful country, where the road now leads". Julius Ramsay, who was with Gustaf Wittenström at these ironworks constructions, writes in a letter that is also in our archive that at an ironworks construction there were around 2000 native workers of various kinds. The Swede Gustaf Wittenström later became a designer, designer and construction manager for Domnarvets Jernverk in Dalarna, Sweden's largest ironworks that was planned and built in 1872-1877.

We would also like to mention that these images and other archival documents relating to ironworks construction in India have been the basis for Jan af Geijerstam's doctoral thesis in the spring of 2004 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The book by Jan af Geijerstam is titled: Landscapes of Technology Transfer. Swedish Ironmakers in India 1860-1864.

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