Obsolete Specialties

13 Dec

When I was growing up, I was told that there was a fund by the State of Illinois to support people who went into “obsolete specialties,” skills that were no longer in need in the modern world, but we didn’t want to disappear. But who would follow such a path?

Blacksmithing is the most obvious that came to mind; not a lot of demand for swords these days. However, if you wanted to make custom horseshoes, there is GREAT demand for that, and could command a good price. However, I’m often surprised how many handmade swords are still sold at renaissance fairs across the United States. I own one myself–five pounds of high carbon steel that cost me all my high school graduation money.

Typesetting is a more obvious obsolete skill. We haven’t used actual letter printing since the 1960’s–wiped out an entire profession (and their union!) when we shifted to automated printing presses. However, there is an entire niche hobby built around the idea of making your own cards or papers with nicely printed presses.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find these older letter sets (60 years old!), but they still exist, and somebody wants them. Which goes to prove that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

What’s next? Projectionists are already eliminated, but movie theaters might be next. And yet, steno pools became secretaries, then admin assistants. Just because the skill becomes obsolete, doesn’t mean that need for the role disappears. What skill might become obsolete next? How does someone adjust to the changing demands? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “Obsolete Specialties”

  1. Anthony Garner December 13, 2020 at 11:36 am #

    Delightful idea. Leather book binding comes to mind

  2. joanne the geek December 14, 2020 at 5:28 am #

    My Dad had a printing press and quite a lot of typeface that he had managed to find over the years. He printed lots of cards, pamphlets, and other things. After he died the typeface and his hand operated press passed to me, but at the time I didn’t have room for it nor the time to learn how to use it all, so I donated it all the local historical park as I knew they would get use out of it.

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