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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trades of Yesteryears - stamps from Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Post has issued a series of stamps dedicated to the obsolete trades of blacksmith, basket maker, grinder and cooper.

The blacksmith is an artisan whose trade consists of shoeing horses and other equines and of trimming their shoes. Today, blacksmiths are involved only rarely with bovines.

The basket maker is an artisan who deals mostly in baskets. Basketmaking is the art of braiding vegetable fibers to create a variety of articles. The origin of basketmaking goes back to ancient Egypt.

The grinder sharpens (or re-sharpens) the cutting tools and edges of implements used by housewives and tradesmen. The grinder moved through the main towns or from village to village, with his small cart to which a grindstone was fixed. He stopped at each street corner shaking his bell and shouting: "Grinder, Grinder! Sharpen your scissors! Sharpen your scissors!"

The cooper works with great precision: he is responsible for supplying wooden barrels. All the know-how of the cooper comes together in making this useful and necessary object. The barrel has been known in Europe for more than 2,000 years; invented by the Gauls, it was designed to hold liquid products (wine, beer, cider, water) and solids such as grains, seasonings, and even nails. The master coopers were organized as early as the 9th century.