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A Manual of Electro-Metallurgy, by James Napier, 1860

From our Digital Antique Books Library…

A Manual of Electro-Metallurgy,
By James Napier, 1860

The Applications of the Art to Manufacturing

This remarkable early 1860 book (written over 160 years ago!) is 179
pages of solid, interesting It is remarkable how much
of it remains useful and interesting. The author was a pioneer in
using electroforming for making things, and contributed to what was
then an emerging field of science and art. This book is as original
as it gets. The insights (such as electoforming is the result of
accidental observations) are pithy, strong and incredibly early. If
you are interested in the history of our field this is a must-have
book. Really interesting stuff.

Chapters include:

  • History of the Art of Electro-metallurgy
  • Description of galvanic batteries & their respective peculiarities
  • Electrotype Processes
  • Miscellaneous Applications of the Process of Coating with Copper
  • Bronzing
  • Deposition of Metals upon one Another
  • Electro-plating
  • Electro-gilding
  • Results of Experiments on the Deposition of Other Metals as
  • Theoretical Observations

The book begins with Voltare’s invention of the battery, and then
other battery improvements and inventions. This is truly the
beginnings of electroplating and electroforming and it details who
did what and their developments and innovations. Really cool. Real
history, as not seen elsewhere. Real details about how things were
invented. Quite unique, and political, and personal in its
observations. There are many reports of experiments from different
people, in detail, and with comments. This is a wonderful window
into innovation and research. We are talking actual research reports,
in earthy detail. If you are interested in electroforming this early
is gold. No other book I have ever seen has this kind of
original research Much of the book is a synopsis of
different researchers reports, an incredibly useful distillation of

The section on batteries is again of great interest to technophiles.
You will not find this kind of documentation elsewhere. Like lots of
it. If you ever needed to re-invent batteries in a post apocalyptic
world this book would be a go-to source. If there was a book on the
history of battery development this one is a contender. At the time
this was written there was no other way of obtaining electricity than
using batteries.

The principles of electroforming hold good today, and are really well
elucidated. Making molds of objects by electroforming is extensively
dealt with. The section on molds covers all kinds of approaches, many
still useable and some forgotten methods. Really interesting molding
techniques, a most thorough description of molding methods, using
treacle, rubbers, all kinds of materials. Electroforming into molds,
and making the mold conductive (the frequently mentioned 'black lead’
is graphite) is dealt with. There are a number of printmaking
techniques using electroforming which are described.

There is an excellent chapter on patination and bronzing (browning)
metals. There are a number of methods for getting browns on bronze
(or copper) I have not seen before, such as a strong sugar solution
to make a green on bronze.

If you have any sense of chemistry, or electro-motive potentials (not
known or understood at this time) then some of the explanations of
what is happening chemically are a little simplistic, or off, but
still reflect accurate observations and what happens exactly. This is
so early that the actual making of many of the chemicals for plating
are described: the section is very extensive (remember that safety
was a new idea at the time and you had better know chemistry and have
a fume hood before trying any of these!).

There are a number of recipes and experiments reported for coating
iron with copper and other metals. Silver and gold plating are dealt
with in depth, including making the solutions for plating. There are
several recipes for non-cyanide silver plating solutions. The gold
plating solution making is very interesting.

There is an interesting description of making Sheffield Plate and of
the arguments between its makers and the new electroplating. There is
a fearsome chapter on safety and the horrible effects on workmen of
using these chemicals, including the author’s own experiences. There
is a very unique chapter on plating with other metals.

Any metallurgist or chemist would enjoy this book.
File Size: 11.80MB, 179 Pages=A0

Download the full eBook at the ridiculous price of $5.