The ancient Romans established a strong steel working craft in Toledo, leading to a tradition of fine quality Toledo steel. In fact, the best swords in the XVI and XVII centuries were from Toledo, with its river, the Tajo, having been attributed with almost miraculous properties for strong and fine steel production. Related to this was the production of Toledo Craft, or Damasquinado, in Spanish.
Medieval Toledo was a melting pot, in which various cultures thrived and coexisted peacefully. The town, which was the ancient capital of Spain (until growth due to the empire necessitated the establishment of Madrid), saw incredible advances in learning, writing and the arts. Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together fairly harmoniously. Around that period, this craft developed, which is believed to have its roots in the oriental style craft until then seen in Damascus, Syria; hence, the name Damasquinado.
Produced in Toledo, this is a style of decorating non-precious metals with 18 carat or 24 carat gold, which has not changed since the Middle Ages. On the base metal (originally iron or fine Toledo steel), patterns were obtained by engraving deep, patterned cuts into the metal. Gold was then chiseled into the lines of the design. The gold foil was hammered until the gold penetrated into the incisions. The metal than was oxidized, to create the blackened metal around the gold design, producing a brilliant contrast.
Basically, there are two styles of Toledo Craft: Arabesque and Renaissance. Since Islam did not permit the depiction of living creatures, the Arabesque pattern was entirely geometric in design. The Renaissance pattern, by contrast, depicted various bird and flower motifs. What is interesting is that the traditional Spanish way of cleaning the Toledo Craft was by using bread crumbs soaked in olive oil!
Although there are numerous workshops in Toledo, we, at Celt-Iberia Traders, purchase our stock from a leading company which supplies the prestigious Corte Ingles Spanish Department store. You can find our jewelry under the Spanish Jewelry/Toledo Craft section of our website; and decorative plates, key chains, pocket knife key chains, mirrors and jewelry boxes under the Spanish Art and Artists/Toledo Craft section.
We carry numerous items not seen on our website, so please contact us (tel: 215 862-4922; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions or inquiries, and we’ll be happy to see if items are in stock or if we can obtain them from Spain.