Posted 3 months ago
No, it’s not melted candle wax dripped onto a chianti bottle from my college days. Then again, how many of you remember making candle drippings on bottles?
Anyhow … for years my wife and I would visit friends in Copper Harbor, Michigan (USA); a town that’s about as far north as you can get in Michigan. When stopping into antique stores along the drive, we noticed a lot of mining related artifacts. It was curious and new to us. We learned that the northern peninsula separating Lake Superior and Keweenaw Bay was home to several copper mining operations. Some started in the mid-1800s, but they eventually closed down in the mid-1900s.
Mining artifacts were retrieved from abandoned, decaying mines and smelters. While learning about Michigan’s local copper industry, we began to appreciate these objects as historically interesting collectables. Our small collection includes tools (i.e., ladles with “skull caps” - that’s for a future post), kettles, mined native copper ore, and smelting artifacts such as the example shown here.
This pre-1930s copper artifact was recovered from a smelter operated by the Quincy Mining Company located south of Copper Harbor. Operations (mining and smelting) closed in 1931. The artifact’s age isn’t known but it could date as early as the 1890s. In the smelter, copper must have repeatedly dripped in common areas and slowly built up into delicate looking, pillar-style sculptural shapes. We have two and this particular example is roughly 8½ inches high by 4 inches in diameter.