|Dimensions||55 × 55 × 20 mm|
Dartmoor holds a very distinguished position in the industrial history of England. For at least 800 years, from the 12th to the 20th century, tinners worked in harsh conditions on the moor searching out ore which was smelted in ‘blowing mills’ to form soft, silvery metal, used in the manufacture of pewter and other goods. At times, hundreds of tinworks existed and hundreds of men were employed. Their legacy today is an unrivaled archaeological landscape to be explored. The tinners divided the moor into four tin working ‘stannaries’ (Chagford, Ashburton, Plympton and Tavistock) and made their own laws in a great court or parliament, which met in the open air on windswept Crockerntor. The earliest known assembly was in 1474. The tin used for this paperweight was produced in the the last tin smelting house in Devon – at Weir Quay on the River Tamar. It was operated by the Tamar Tin Smelting Company which closed down in 1890. This tin was put on board the S.S. Cheerful which sank early in the morning of 20th July 1885 when it was run down in thick fog by a torpedo ship H.M.S. Hecla, off St. Ives. Skilfully recovered from the sea bed by divers, some of the ingots have been remelted by the Plymouth Mint (now Bigbury Mint) to make these stunning reminders of the heritage of Devon and its tinners.