10th Wedding Anniversary
The tenth wedding anniversary is, in some ways, a very special wedding anniversary as it sets a milestone in a relationship. It is fortunate that the occasion can be remembered with such a simple gift as an item in Cornish Tin.
The traditional list of wedding anniversary materials places tin at 10th but the more contemporary version of the list uses diamonds as a 10th wedding anniversary gift. The obvious question comes to mind. Why not combine the two? This is interesting because it brings a little history into the reasoning.
The History of our Cornish Tin and its relationship to a 10th wedding anniversary
Cornwall is justly proud of its ancient tin industry that began nearly 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. Tin was mined by our Celtic ancestors and exported to Europe and the Middle East where it was used in making weapons and tools. Nowhere in the world was tin mining so engrained into the local culture as Cornwall and especially so during the 19th and 20th centuries. The last 100 years of the industry were to prove the most turbulent in its history with cycles of boom and bust.
The early tin industry was based on alluvial deposits, where streams had eroded down through the surface and cut across tin seams. As technology advanced, so the mines developed and became shafts and adits from which to extract the cassiterite (tinstone) from the mother lode. In medieval Britain, the tin industry kept Cornwall relatively independent, with its own stannary law allowing some self-government. Tin has always been valuable, so the mines went ever deeper over the centuries advanced by mining engineers pushing the edge.
As the British empire spread across the world, the sturdy Cornish miners and their traditions went with it. The 19th century, a time of gold and diamond rushes, brought Cornish miners to America, Australia, South Africa, Jamaica, and Canada where many of them have remained. In 1867 diamonds were discovered in the Orange River and soon after in Kimberley. In around 1871 discoveries of gold in the Transvaal, South Africa caused gold fever. Miners left Cornwall in droves and from 1886 the rich deposits in the Rand goldfields led to the high point of Cornwall’s emigration. About 10,000 Cornish miners left, by train and then ship, for the land that became a British dominion in 1910. “We are living on South Africa” claimed one Cornish newspaper in 1902.
Before the exodus, and for many years after, tin continued to be mined in Cornwall along with copper. The tin was smelted and cast into ingots locally. Much of this tin was transported by sea from Cornwall and occasionally some of it was lost. One such cargo was shipped from Penzance in the SS Liverpool, which sank off Anglesey in 1863 where it remained for 138 years. The ingots were smelted at Chyandour, Penzance in 1862 and stamped with the lamb and flag mark that was commonly used in those days as a symbol of purity.
One hundred and thirty eight years later some of the cargo of Cornish tin ingots was raised off the seabed from the wreck. Each ingot was carefully cleaned in order for us to make the items in the Cornish Tin Collection. So your 10th wedding anniversary gift could have some special significance.
Miniature versions of the ingot can be found in the 10th wedding anniversary section of our catalogue.