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Abstract

While the Shakers are primarily known for their religious beliefs, their lives have also reflected a fascination with technological innovation and a desire for self-sufficiency in certain manufactures. Over the past six years, excavations have been conducted at the Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire, into the remains of two Shaker blacksmith shops, one of which was accompanied by a waster dump filled with redware tobacco pipes, indicating that this had been a site of pipe manufacture. This was the very first evidence that the Canterbury Shakers had engaged in pipemaking, probably prior to the Shaker prohibition upon tobacco in the 1840s. Shakers at the second blacksmith shop did not manufacture pipes, but its dump revealed the working of soapstone, probably into gravestones, as well as evidence for a wide range of maintenance activities, for gunsmithing, and for the Shaker blacksmiths actually living in the shop. The second shop also contained numerous blackened pipes that the Shaker blacksmiths had smoked themselves. This paper discusses some of the activities that went on within the Shaker smithies and explores issues related to the Shaker use of tobacco. While it does not principally focus on the technological aspects of blacksmithing, that type of analysis definitely needs to be performed on the Canterbury materials.

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