In reaching back into the history of jewellery making I have discovered Potter USA, a company in Arizona that is doing everything they can to save the history of the jewellery tool and die industry around the world.
As historical companies from the mid/late 1800's have begun to close their businesses in the last 10 to 15 years, Potter USA has been purchasing and saving as much of the steel hubs and tools as they can.
Steel hubs were hand carved by artisans, the hubs were then used with a 20 ton press or higher to push the pattern into sheets of sterling silver, copper or brass. These pressings were then used to create jewellery.
Kevin Potter and his staff have traveled around Europe and the USA to save as many of the original hubs and tools as they can.
Kevin will then use these original hubs to carefully create a new working hub. These hubs are old and they do not always survive the process, once a hub is damaged it is lost to history forever. They are made in small batches of 50 or less depending on whether the original survives the process.
Jewellers like myself who are lucky enough to get one of these new hubs will then use them to once again create new jewellery pieces from historical authentic art work that in some cases has not seen the light of day in over 100 years. Once a new set of working hubs have been made, the original is retired as there are thousands of them waiting their turn to live again.
With so few of the new hubs available, it guarantees that the new work is kept fresh and unique as each jeweller/metalsmith has their own interpretation of what a final piece will be.
If you would like some further history on the subject then please take a moment to read the following articles.