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Old 03-08-2016, 03:33 PM   #1
Axbolt
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The Eye Where do elves get metal?

This is probably a silly question with an obvious answer but:
I've never seen any mention of an eleven mine, and I certainly can't see Thranduill trading with dwarves for steel for arrow heads. Although there is plenty of reference to them having many diferent metals.
So where do elves get there metal?

My brother suggested that they sell maggotey bread to Orcs for steel?
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:41 PM   #2
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Gondolin is specifically stated as having mines. Consider this statement about Maeglin:
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"he gathered about him all such as had the most bent to smithcraft and mining; and he sought in the Echoriath (which are the Encircling Mountains), and found rich lodes of ore of divers metals. Most he prized the hard iron of the mine of Anghabar in the north of the Echoriath, and thence he got a wealth of forged metal and of steel, so that the arms of the Gondolindrim were made ever stronger and more keen; and that stood them in good stead in the days to come."
This is the only statement I can find in The Silmarillion about Elven mines, but given that so many Elves lived underground, including Thranduil, I would consider it very unlikely that they didn't have their own mines. Mines tend to usually be mentioned in the context of Dwarves and the enemy, it seems, but I wouldn't say that means that the Men of Gondor, for instance, who were great metalworkers, didn't have mines.

Considering how much the Noldor loved working with metal, I'd say it would be practically essential that they had mines of their own. I can't see Eregion not having its own mines, for instance.

That being said, I'm sure some Elves did acquire it through trade with Dwarves; not Thranduil perhaps, but those with friendly relations presumably could have.
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Old 03-09-2016, 07:16 AM   #3
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Very interesting, so I would assume that if elves mined at Gondolin then they must still mine in middle earth. However there is no mention of it anywhere in LOTR that I can find.
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:15 AM   #4
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Nope. I've done a search of the whole thing (The Lord of the Rings, I mean) and couldn't find a reference to Mines outside of those used by Dwarves and Orcs.

It just seems likely to me that they probably did have their own mines. Professor Tolkien just doesn't seem to often describe such industrial business when it comes to Elves, even though there were surely Elf-miners and Elf-farmers and Elves who did all sorts of fairly menial manual labour to keep Elven society running; perhaps they just did it so well (as you might imagine they would) that it just wasn't worth mentioning!
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:41 AM   #5
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Wasn't it also implied or stated that Maeglin's and his father Eöl's keen interest in mining and smithcraft was rather looked down on by the other nobles? That it was below their station to go under ground and dig for ore and that they became bent by their labour? It does seem a rather un-Elvish thing to do.

I would assume that the Elves of Middle Earth would trade with Dwarves or Men for ore, metals and metalwork rather than doing it themselves if they had the opportunity.

Like fex Thingol would have the Dwarves of Ered Luin supply his metal and smithying needs. I assume that Thranduil would trade for his fill as well, maybe with the Men of Dale acting as middle men between him and the Dwarves. Almost certainly the Noldor of Eregion would have gotten most of their metals and ore from Moria, even though the Noldor would have been the most keen miners of the Elvish peoples. The Elves of Lindon in the Third Age also had Dwarven neighbours.

The native Wood-Elves would barely use metals, if at all, methinks.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
Wasn't it also implied or stated that Maeglin's and his father Eöl's keen interest in mining and smithcraft was rather looked down on by the other nobles? That it was below their station to go under ground and dig for ore and that they became bent by their labour? It does seem a rather un-Elvish thing to do.
Then again, didn't Morgoth value his Noldorin slaves for their skills in mining and smithwork?
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Old 03-09-2016, 02:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
Wasn't it also implied or stated that Maeglin's and his father Eöl's keen interest in mining and smithcraft was rather looked down on by the other nobles? That it was below their station to go under ground and dig for ore and that they became bent by their labour? It does seem a rather un-Elvish thing to do
If mining is an un-elvish thing to do, then a lot of things must be an un-elvish thing to do. It must be very boring to be an elf
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
Wasn't it also implied or stated that Maeglin's and his father Eöl's keen interest in mining and smithcraft was rather looked down on by the other nobles? That it was below their station to go under ground and dig for ore and that they became bent by their labour? It does seem a rather un-Elvish thing to do.
Well Eöl was certainly "stooped by his smithwork" but he was disdained by Curufin as a "Dark Elf" rather than for other apparent reasons, at least as far as I can see.

Also, I don't think other Elf nobles would have looked down on smithcraft; at least the Noldor would not have done, as Fėanor was the greatest craftsman of their people and also King for a time and held in high esteem.

Furthermore, many Elves didn't just go underground but lived underground as a matter of course, if usually for defensive purposes, and that included Noldor like Finrod in Nargothrond as well as "Dark" Elves like Thingol and Thranduil.

The Silmarillion does state, however, that Eöl often took Maeglin to the mansions of the Dwarves in Ered Luin where he learned "the craft of finding the ores of metals in the mountains," so perhaps such skills were not necessarily common among Elves; but they had to have been common enough that the craftsmen of Turgon could delve their own mines in the Encircling Mountains, unless those mines were not delved until after Maeglin came to Gondolin.

It just seems very unlikely to me that Elves never acquired metal for themselves on their own. Not all Elves were noblemen of high station and many must surely have done fairly "ordinary" work, albeit probably in a superior, Elvish way.
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