Indeed, the price is not dissimilar to that charged for hand wrought nails in medieval times.For even more detailed information on nail chronology to help determine the age of a building; the shapes of hand made nails; the first cut nails which were then headed in a second process; the fight during the period 1790-1820 to be the first to design the best 'one process' cut nail machine; or you would like to look at the British Army's Nail Standards manual dated 1813, here are the sources for these articles particularly the ones noted below. Phillips: Mechanic Geniuses and Duckies, A Revision of New England's Cut Nail Chronology Before 1820, APT Bulletin Vol. 3-4, and Mechanic Geniuses and Duckies Redux: Nail Makers and Their Machines, APT Bulletin XXVII No. Wire nails will be found in a building put up in the period from then to date.For the restorer, it is vital that the correct raw materials are used in any attempt to preserve an old building. The restorer is looking to use similar nails to ensure the authenticity of the restored building.It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared, but that tended really to automate much of the blacksmith's job.The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.One such company is Glasgow Steel Nail Co which can trace its business roots back to 1870.In addition to working with these old machines, the process also involves preserving the blacksmith's skills to form cutting and heading tools.
Because the process still involves a man (or woman) presenting a strip of metal to a machine, the resulting nail is necessarily imprecise - that is each nail can look a little different to the next one.
Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and with four glancing blows of the hammer would form the rosehead (a shallow pyramid shape).
This shape of nail had the benefit of four sharp edges on the shank which cut deep into timber and the tapered shank provided friction down its full length.
The first automatically produced wire nails with no human intervention other than to set up the machine immediately showed that this was the way to produce a cheaper nail.
The fact that the nail had a round parallel shank that had up to four times less holding power didn't matter so much.
Cut nails for the restoration industry can amount to just a few pence each and it only takes a moment to assess their long term value say in comparison with the can of Coca Cola or Mars Bar you might buy for lunch.