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In the space of a few months I have come across two identical examples of decorative tin ingots from the Mellanear Smelting Works.
The photo of the ingot on a white background was sent to me in July 2017 by Eugene whose brother-in-law saw it in the Antique Barn in Azel, near Bridgeport, Texas. He believed that it was brought from the North East States as all the barn’s items are purchased in that area.
The photo of the ingot on a yellow background appeared on eBay in July 2017 for sale at £650 but was not sold. John, the owner who lives in Scotland and deals with house clearances bought it from a local widow. She had a total of three Mellanear ingots and two other local Cornish ones which had come to her from late husbands Cornish side of the family when they all lived there a very long time ago. All five ingots are due to be auctioned in September 2017.
Both these ingots bear the name of Williams, Harvey & Co Ltd, Mellanear and have the common emblem of the Lamb and Flag. They measure 41 cm long and 6.7cm at the centre and weigh roughly 1.1 kgs.
In 1837 a new smelter was started by Williams & Harvey on land owned by Harvey & Co at Mellanear and operated when it was part of the Wheal Alfred complex and was finished by 1862. So there you have a date - 1837 to 1862; more likely to be the later end of the date range.
When consignments of tin were smelted; the local smelting house would produce ingots of a standard ‘brick’ size for export and transportation as that is the most easiest shape to pack the hold of a ship and in addition a decorative ingot was made to be placed on each cart of ingots in order to identify the source. They would be either a bar type design or a simple plaque.
These identification ingots had a value equivalent to the tin they contained and could be used as a form of currency (as in the 18th century) or melted down with the industrial ingots and used in the manufacture of tin items.
For this reason not many of them remain today but beware of modern replicas. The next photo is of modern replicas.
A collection of 20 genuine ones in pristine condition were valued on the BBC Antiques Road show in 2013 in the range of £5,000 to £10,000.
Surprisingly enough I came across another one for sale on eBay in August (2017). Thomas, who was selling it, tells me that it has been professionally cleaned and that it why it looks so good. He had others for sale.
In February 2019 Robert from Sweden had four ingots of tin stamped with the Williams Harvey name and symbol. Three are stamped Holland and one Mellanear. The Mellanear one measures 375mm x 120mm x 60mm and the Holland 363mm x 120mm x 60mm. Length and width are measured at the top. The ingots are of course somewhat irregular in shape. They both weigh close to 14 kgs.
He had inherited them by way of his wife, who in turn by way of her great aunt whose husband had a small foundry in Gnosjö, Sweden. He was also an amateur botanist and he used these four ingots to press plants for a specimen collection. Robert took them home because they looked interesting. He has been using them as weights for flattening warped boards. He was on his way to sell them to the junkyard for scrap metal when I decided to Google the manufacturer.
These 4 photos of ingots were sent to me via Facebook in February 2020 by Lukasz, a gentleman in Poland. They were given to him by his grandfather about 25 years ago. They are not as large as the ones shown above, and I guess that they are about half the size and half the weight. They are tin ingots, stamped with Harveys to indicate the mine owner; and Mellanear to indicate the source. The fact that it has Harveys stamped on it leads me to believe that they owned the smelting works. Were they mined from 'my Mellanear mine here' for the period I am researching ? or were they mined and smelted long after it had closed ?. I do not know, but they are in handy sizes for exportation and packing into a ship's hold and a lovely souvenir with history to have. I cannot make up my mind as to whether or not they are 4 halves, which when place together make two complete ingots. I cannot see a handle grab on both sides of each ingot. Later I am told that they weigh 7kg so they are only half a normal ingot size. Thank you Lukasz.
In October 2020 I received this photo from Max. He had been given it by a friend many years ago when he was much younger. It is difficult to give an opinion but it appears very clean and new looking. It could be an original which has been cleaned or it could be a replica. I cannot tell. It has all the correct markings except that the logo is not the local lamb and flag. Perhaps it is from the one of the later smelting houses they had at Bootle but which still carried the same trademark name.
This photo was sent to me in February 2021. It is different from all the previous ones, but nevertheless I think that it is genuine although I cannot be certain about the age. Another nice example.