The history of tin washing dates back to the 16th century. The tin washer IV represents a significant technological innovation of ore processing with far reaching importance for mining in central Europe and worldwide.
The history of tin washing dates back to the 16th century. The tin washer IV is testimony for the wet stamping process developed in the Ore Mountains at this time. It has been the main method applied to effectively treat low-grade tin ore in the whole of the Altenberg-Zinnwald Mining Landscape. The invention diffused worldwide and, although not restricted to tin, revolutionized ore recovery and tin output in Cornwall, UK.
After closure in 1952 the tin washer has been converted into a technical museum, dedicating historical ore dressing. The museum opened in 1957. Its open space displays mining equipment from the second half of the 20th century.
The building represents the ore stamping works typical of the Ore Mountains region. It consists of two single-storey wings which stand at right angles to each another. One wing houses the stamping works and the other one the machinery used to wash the tin stone. The ground-floor brickwork is made from local quartz and granite porphyry rubble stones. On top sits a wood-shingled gabled roof set on a timber-frame construction. The stamping works span the cellar and ground floor. The roof truss has not been completed and the roofing is freely visible. The southern side of the wing houses the tin washing works and features a wooden block wall with “Umgebinde”-style support construction. Since this wing is connected to the stamping works the ground floor appears sunk into the ground like a cellar. This partial embedding provided a certain degree of frost protection of the water-based treatment processes during the winter months and results in the characteristic exterior view with seemingly low outer walls. The attic originally served as a material store and workshop and is used for the museums exhibition at present day.
Washing works 4 is very historic in the region and is verifiably one of the oldest preserved buildings in the city of Altenberg. Since continuous use as a museum the building remains in good condition.