Friday, 22 March 2013 00:00
The Hicksville-Jericho Rotary Club was pleased to have Denward Collins, Jr., past president of the Hicksville Historical Society, speak today about the history of gold beating in Hicksville. Gold beating is the production of gold leaf and was a thriving business in Hicksville between 1850 and 1942.
Gold beating dates back over 5,000 years, to biblical times. Gold was pounded with a round stone to its thinnest possible thickness. The process was mostly unchanged and still done by hand back in the late 19th century. The only difference was that instead of a stone, cast iron hammers weighing between 5 lb. and 18 lb. were used. Gold beaters would swing those hammers for hours until the gold was pounded to 1/250,000 of an inch.
Beginning in 1850, German immigrants brought this craft to the rural hamlet of Hicksville. At its peak, this cottage industry employed one-third of Hicksville’s population in more than 20 shops. Gold leaf was used to decorate many objects, including leather-bound books, picture frames, dinner plates, and carriages. Hicksville’s last goldbeating shop closed in 1942. Collins also noted that his family was involved in gold beating industry.
Dr. James Bentson, president of the Hicksville-Jericho Rotary Club thanked Collins for an information-packed talk about the history of Hicksville.