from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A girl or young woman employed in the mines of Cornwall, England.
The smock-frock is a survival of a ploughman's dress and the Cornish miner and mine-girl (balmaiden) have a sort of peasant dress.
Great masses of ore are delivered to the balmaidens or cobbers, who sit with large iron hammer in one hand, whilst the other strongly cased in leather or carpet, to prevent any accident, and with the hammer they chip small pieces from the vast blocks, which give out a sharp metallic when struck.
The term ‘balmaiden’ has been in use since the 18th century. Since antiquity until the late 20th century, tin and copper mining have been a significant part in the economy of Cornwall. ‘Bal’ is the Cornish word for ‘mine.’