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Slightly later, Benjamin stated that wire nails “are well suited for, and principally used in, the construction of packaging cases of willow or other soft woods which grow so abundantly on the continent”.
Late in the century Smith could still state, possibly erroneously, that their manufacture was “mainly carried on by Continental firms”.
This property of steel nails results in an immense saving of labour, and in the United States, where so many houses are built of wood, it has proved of considerable value.
I find from reliable statistics furnished by nail manufacturers, that in 1892 no less than 171,200 tons of unforged nails, and 139,900 tons of steel-wire nails were made in America alone.
Even at the end of the 19th century a British dictionary still considered it appropriate to state that “there are three leading distinctions of iron nails as respects the modes of manufacture, wrought, cut, and cast”.
It is interesting to note that the early technology for the manufacture of pins from wire with a wound head, dating back to the 16th century, was not transferred to the manufacture of nails although the present day manufacture of nails and pins bear some resemblance to each other.
By the end of the 19th century the production of wire nails in North America greatly exceeded that of cut nails.
The term wire nail applies to both the present day machine-made nail using wire stock and earlier nails which used wire stock but may not have been made entirely with the use of machines.
Fremont states that the first industrial production of wire nails in France began in 1819, although not using the machine patented by White which is characterized as being better known for its ingenuity then its strength and not capable of withstanding the rigorous demands of continuous production.
By 1840 machine made wire nails were being produced by a number of Paris manufacturers and wire nail machines were being exhibited at the Paris Exhibitions of 18 and at the London Exhibition of 1851.