A vise is loosely defined as two jaws that provide pressure
to clamp or immobilize an object. The engraver's or jeweller's
ball is a unique vise that was used in a specialized trade.
Sometimes called a block, it was used by metalsmiths and jewellers
to hold small, irregular-shaped objects firmly by means of
accessory pins and fixtures that fitted into the moveable
jaws. Sadly, this collector's example is missing these items.
is the art of incising a pattern into a backing medium. Early
books and pictures were printed using wooden blocks that were
engraved in the same manner as was used much later to decorate
items made of precious metalsusing a basic burin or graver.
The design of this tool has been somewhat static; its current
appearance is much the same as it was 200 years ago. However,
advances in holding aids used specifically by these tradespeople
were especially productive in the latter part of the 19th
century. To some extent, the engraver's ball replaced the
pitch bowl and other restraint systems used when engraving
fine items, although the pitch and bowl method continues in
repoussé and chasing work.