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38 Reviews
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "How Things Work" book for the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
This book is simply amazing. It collects within it, the major skills used to make the items one used during every-day life in colonial america and late 19th century england. Items are described in great detail, as well as the trades and craftsmen who made them. Diagrams, photos and pictures are all clear.

This book is not a how-to guide, however. You will...
Published on February 22, 2006 by Adrian Black

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT USEFUL, but it does have nice sketches of stuff
Somehow I was under the impression that this book would be useful, but I was dead wrong. I see the book is tagged with terms like "permaculture, homesteading, organic farming, survival, country skills..." How terribly misleading!!! Who tagged this book with those terms?!?! I am way into Permaculture and it's myriad disciplines, so I bought this book thinking it might...
Published on January 31, 2008 by Xitomatl


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "How Things Work" book for the late 19th to early 20th centuries., February 22, 2006
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This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
This book is simply amazing. It collects within it, the major skills used to make the items one used during every-day life in colonial america and late 19th century england. Items are described in great detail, as well as the trades and craftsmen who made them. Diagrams, photos and pictures are all clear.

This book is not a how-to guide, however. You will need thorough instructions from elsewhere. What it is is an encyclopedia of sadly-forgotten trades from days when everything was made somewhere other than China.

There is indeed nothing about bookbinding as one reviewer mentioned. I was rather bummed about that as well. However, I can easily forgive this, since it's not what I would consider a "survival skill". Forgotten Arts and Crafts highlights trades that contribute to the living and surviving of daily life, rather than the extras such as reading, music, etc, for the most part. Coopers, tanners, butter-making, the care and tending of an old household pre-vaccum and washing, saddle-making, carpentry, farriers and blacksmiths, spinners, weavers, carpenters, etc... were all required to merely subsist in ye old days when everyone in a town or village was generally a deeply-skilled craftsman...those days before we had cars and super-transmorgrified mega-marts. As sad as it makes me, a devopted book-lover, literacy and thus the making of books were not of that skill set.

Anyway, this is a most excellent book for those interested in a project-starting book for ideas, as well as for writers, researchers, and history buffs of all kinds. Heck, *I* don't like history and I loved this one. Fascinating stuff.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful skills, sadly forgotten, November 27, 2002
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This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
This book is filled to the brim with descriptions on how people have produced materials for their every need before being replaced by inferior (but cheap) mass produced items. Baskets, walls, barrels, baking, smithing, this book has them all--with the unfortunate excepting of bookbinding. Not heavy on the detail side, instead giving a broad scope of now lost skills--accompanied by photographs, excellent drawings, and anecdotes that reveal the warm personality of the author. A wonderful addition to the library of anyone who's ever thought "What happened to quality? Maybe cheaper isn't better!"
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Time Travel Without This Book!, February 11, 2006
This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
I have been having a great run on historical luck lately, finding books on everyday life of bygone days. The Forgotten Arts and Crafts by John Seymour is the latest in a line of excellent social history books that I have recently acquired, and I must say, for any historian - beginner or seasoned - this book is an absolute must. Broken into two parts (Forgotten Arts and Forgotten Household Crafts), detailed information on how survival in the past was accomplished by our ancestors is given, written in a very entertaining and easy to read style using both modern and period directions. Sketches and photographs enhance the text greatly, giving the reader full understanding of the subject studied - and the subjects are too numerous to list here. But just to name a few of the occupations and survival crafts from the first half: blacksmithing, becoming a wheelwright, well digging, chair making, coopering, working a millstone, basketry, building an actual wooden house, ladder making - all shown how it was done in an era long past.
The second part of the book details the essentials of home life, such as herb and spice usage, drying and smoking meat, cooking in an open hearth or on a range, making lye and soap, the heating of one's home, the many ways of lighting your home, bathing and toiletry, dyeing, spinning... and on and on and on.
Put the two chapters together and you have quite an overview for living in the past!
Of course, there are other books out there that will give you a "how-to" in much greater detail - this book is more of an aerial perspective, giving the reader a strong idea of life in the past.
DK Publishing has never let me down yet - they seem to have the same passion for history as I do. Lucky for all of us they get the information out there for all to see.
A little pricey, but, to me, well worth it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT USEFUL, but it does have nice sketches of stuff, January 31, 2008
By 
Xitomatl (Olympia, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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Somehow I was under the impression that this book would be useful, but I was dead wrong. I see the book is tagged with terms like "permaculture, homesteading, organic farming, survival, country skills..." How terribly misleading!!! Who tagged this book with those terms?!?! I am way into Permaculture and it's myriad disciplines, so I bought this book thinking it might help me make something useful with my hands, but not at all. It has nice sketches of things, but ends about there. A great coffee table book for antique junkies and the likes, though. See the review by Ryan McNabb, I completely agree with him. As he said in his last paragraph,

"These books are a lovely diversion from the cares of modern life, but they won't take you there any more than a book about the space shuttle will put you in orbit. The simple life is attainable, but it will be the hardest thing you ever do, and this book won't help you one bit."

Wish I'd read his review before I bought it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of forgotten crafts, January 6, 2006
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This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
This book provides a good overview of many forgotten crafts. Since the description for each craft is basically a page or two with line drawings of tools used for each craftand occasional old photos of a craftsman at work, it lacks the detail and step by step instructions necessary to learn any of the crafts directly from this book. It's a very interesting book, but if you're looking for a how-to book, look elsewhere. I'd suggest Storey's basic country skills or the more detailed individual Storeys guides.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Careful- not the same as review, January 23, 2008
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While this is a beautiful book, it is NOT the combination of Seymnour's previous works, but a reprint of only "Forgotten Household Crafts", and without any color plates like the original. If you want the compilation, make sure the title indicates BOTH former books ("Forgotten Arts AND Crafts"). The Amazon review is the same for both, but is inaccurate for this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Know the Facts Before Buying this Book, June 13, 2008
John Seymour is one of my favorite authors to read. He is brilliant, witty, wise and sincere about a subject that is dear to my heart: self-sufficiency and homesteding. That being said, please read this review before purchasing this book.

This is an excellent book that explains to you how household (or 'feminine')crafts were done before the industrial era. Only household arts. So, for ideas or nostalgic uses, this book is excellent. This book is not very useful, however, for those that are looking for a how-to book that explains how to actually perform these crafts.

If you still want it, though, I highly suggest foregoing this book altogether and purchasing John Seymour's "The Forgotten Arts & Crafts: Skills from Bygone Days", ISBN-13 9780789458476. The reason I say this is because you will get both 'feminine' forgotten household arts as well as 'masculine' forgotten arts, such as tanning, fence-making, felling, wheelwrighting, farrier work, etc, for roughly the same price. This book only focuses on the household crafts.

Whatever you choose, you won't regret your expenditure. Another book of Seymour's that I recommend is "The Self Sufficiency and How to Live It."
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43 of 57 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what you need..., November 16, 2006
By 
Ryan McNabb (Ooltewah, TN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
...if you really hope to live anything like a rural, pre-industrial life. Do not, for one minute, underestimate the incredible difficulties you must overcome to leave modern life and begin living in the ways illustrated in this lovely but basically useless book. John Seymour is a global treasure, his books are wonderful and insightful, but I think this one was made mainly to sell.

If you really want to learn to work wood, read the books written by Roy Underhill. If you want to learn to work iron, find a blacksmith and ask for some lessons (books will not help you there.) Learn to cook and can and bake. Learn to sew. Then inherit money or win the lottery because you won't have time to earn a living if you do all these things.

These books are a lovely diversion from the cares of modern life, but they won't take you there any more than a book about the space shuttle will put you in orbit. The simple life is attainable, but it will be the hardest thing you ever do, and this book won't help you one bit. But the pictures are lovely, and if it inspires you, then it's worth the price.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, November 9, 2006
This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
This book is very interesting, but not a practical guide to doing or creating any of the crafts. If you want an introducton to these skills or want to understand the basic priciples for educational reasons -- it is a good book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not exactly....., November 3, 2006
This review is from: Forgotten Arts and Crafts (Hardcover)
Very interesting historically but it didnt have too many "how - to" instructions
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Forgotten Arts and Crafts
Forgotten Arts and Crafts by John Seymour (Hardcover - March 14, 2001)
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