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Tongs for tempering blades


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I am a blacksmith working at a local museum. I came across an old pair  of tongs in their collection. The surface shows a little rust and lots of grain , typical of old wrought iron. It's clearly hand forged and massive. 

It's about 24 inches long overall. The bits are (each) one and a quarter inches square and about five inches long.  It's clearly designed for holding flat stock .

Can anyone suggest what these tongs were used for?  Possible for heating the spine of a blade ??


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