Cover for GREEN: Tin Men. Click for larger image

Tin Men

The art, craft, and social history behind tin men

For centuries, the history and lore of tinkers, tinners, tinsmiths, and their contemporary counterparts--sheet-metal workers--have been represented through the creation of figurative sculptures known as tin men, crafted from sheet metal and scraps into likenesses that include clowns, knights, cowboys, and L. Frank Baum’s Tin Woodsman of Oz.

In this vibrant exploration of tin men and their creators, labor folklorist Archie Green interviews craftspeople, gallery owners, collectors, and Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association officials, linking tinsmith artistry to issues of craft education, union traditions, labor history, and social class. Enhanced by numerous illustrations, the volume also includes an inventory of tin men located in sheet metal shops, galleries, and museums.


"Green's writing, a blend of ethnography and autobiography, is well suited to a craftsman who labored alongside workers and then devoted a second career to interpreting their anonymous contributions."--California Folklore Society

Tin Men opens a new chapter in material culture studies and folk art research. Connoisseurs may collect and venerate their favorite tin-man pieces, but Archie Green reclaims all these objects for the trade.”--Julia Ardery, author of The Temptation: Edgar Tolson and the Genesis of Twentieth-Century Folk Art


Archie Green (1917–2009) was the author of Calf’s Head and Union Tale: Labor Yarns at Work and Play and many other books.

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