Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Puddled Steel

From Graces Guide

The Inventor of Puddled Steel


'Anton Lohage, the inventor of puddled or wrought steel, died on April 21st, at Unna, in Westphalia. Being the son of a poor peasant he was sent to an elementary school, and when twelve years of age be entered the service of a richer peasant as sow-herd, and passed through all the stages of an agricultural labourer. When twenty-one years old he went to work at a factory, and developed there such skill and capacity that he was sent for two years to the factory school at Hagen, where Director Grothe improved him so much that he could be sent with advantage to the Polytechnic School of Berlin, where he studied for three years, and supported himself partly by a small purse which was granted him, partly by working as a chemist in a factory. In 1848 he began his trials at the Haspe Iron Works, near Hagen, in Westphalia, and after some time he succeeded in producing steel of good and uniform quality by the ordinary puddling process. His invention was patented, 1850, in England by Ewald Riepe, and introduced at Low Moor, but owing to the quality of the pig iron, its use was very limited in England, until, in 1858, Mr. William Clay introduced the process on a large scale at the Mersey Steel and Iron Works, Liverpool. In Germany about 100,000 tons of puddled steel are made every year, and it forms the principal material for Krupp's celebrated cast steel.'[1]

Production by the Mersey Steel & Iron Co


‘The following is condensed report of lecture delivered before the Society of Arts on Wednesday evening, by Mr. William Clay, manager of the Mersey Steel and Iron works:—

“In the paper which I am now about to submit to your notice, I have endeavoured to treat of this comparatively new process, viz., the manufacture of puddled or wrought steel, with an account of some of the uses to which it has been applied, only in a mechanical and practical point of view, and to avoid entirely any questions as to the chemical change which takes place in the conversion of the crude cast iron into steel; and I have also endeavoured to avoid instituting any comparisons between this process and many others which seek the same result, viz., the manufacture of cheap steel.

“The manufacture of puddled steel has now been practised on the continent for many years, and the make is rapidly increasing, but, as yet, the uses to which this material has been put are very limited when compared with the vast advantages which would be derived from adopting so strong and durable a material, when produced at a moderate cost.

“The process I am about to describe was patented in the year 1850, by Mr. Ewald Riepe, and it may be asked how it comes to pass that so valuable patent has been allowed to remain almost entirely unknown in this country, when it was granted so long ago as 1850. One reason is the bad state of health of the patentee. Another reason is that the patentee, about the date of the patent, came over here and entered into working arrangements with one of the most important firms in this country—viz., the Lowmoor Iron Company, who have, up to this time, made about 1,000 tons of the puddled steel, but who have not, I believe, carried the manufacture of it beyond the puddling process, but have sold the puddled bars to various Sheffield houses for them carry into the further stages of manufacture, and more especially to Messrs. Naylor, Vickers, and Co., of that town, who have used very largely of this material for the manufacture of their cast steel bells.

“ ‘In making the puddled steel, I employ,’ says Mr. Riepe, ‘the puddling furnace in the same way as for making wrought iron. I introduce a charge of 280 lbs. of pig-iron, and raise the temperature to redness. As soon as the metal begins to fuse and trickle down in a fluid state, the damper is to be partially closed in order to temper the heat. From 12 to 16 shovelfuls of iron cinder discharged from the rolls or squeezing machine are added, and the whole is to be uniformly melted down. The mass is then to be puddled with the addition of little black oxide of manganese, common salt, and dry clay, previously ground together. After this mixture has acted for some minutes, the damper is to be fully opened, when about forty pounds of pig-iron are to be put into the furnace, near the fire bridge, upon elevated beds of cinder prepared for the purpose. When this pig-iron begins to trickle down, and the mass on the bottom of the furnace begins to boil and throw out from the surface the well-known blue jets of flame, the said pig-iron is raked into the boiling mass, and the whole is then well mixed together. The mass soon begins to swell up, and the small grains begin to form in it and break through the melted cinder on the surface. As soon as these grains appear the damper is to be three-quarters shut, and the process closely inspected while the mass being puddled to and fro beneath the covering layer of cinder. During the whole of this process the heat should not be raised above cherry redness, or the welding heat of shear steel. The blue jets of flame gradually disappear while the formation of grains continues, which grains very soon begin to fuse together, so that the mass becomes waxy, and has the above mentioned cherry redness. If these precautions are not observed, the mass would pass more or less into iron, and no uniform steel product could be obtained. As soon as the mass is finished so far, the fire is stirred to keep the necessary heat for the succeeding operation—the damper is to be entirely shut, and part of the mass is collected into a bail, the remainder always being kept covered with cinder slack. This ball is brought under the hammer, and then worked into bars. The same process is continued until the whole is worked into bars. When I use pig-iron made from sparry iron ore, or mixtures of it with other pig-iron, I add only 20 lbs. of the former pig-iron at the later period of the process, instead of about 40 lbs. When I employ Welsh or pig-iron of that description, I throw 10 lbs of best plastic clay, in a dry granulated state, before the beginning of the process, on the bottom of the furnace. I add at the later period of the process, about 40 lbs. of pig-iron as before described, but strew over it clay in the same proportion as just mentioned. I do not claim the commencement of the above described process for making steel in the puddling furnace. But what I claim is regulating the heat in the finishing process, and excluding the atmospheric air from the mass in the manner as described, and also the use or addition of iron to the mass towards the later part of the process.’

“The balls, instead of being rolled into bars, may be hammered into slabs or blooms, for such uses as forgings, rails, plates, or any hammered or rolled steel which requires to be perfectly solid ; but for ordinary use puddled bars are made from two to fourteen inches wide, which are afterwards cut up and piled for various purposes.

“In using the puddled bar steel, it has been found very desirable to test each bar before using it, and to closely inspect the quality, and to select such is best adapted to the purposes required ; for instance, for steel rails, or railway points, or switches, which I roll at one operation direct to the regular taper form desired. I select the most crystalline steel for the upper and under surface of the rail or switch, and for the interior that which is of a more fibrous and tougher description. Between the centre and top and bottom of the rail I place steel of an intermediate grade, which causes the whole pile or mass to weld up easily and work solid.

“It is somewhat worthy of remark that, although this process is so novel, and, apparently, of so delicate a nature, yet, with the specification as my only guide, having never before heard or seen the operation, it succeeded perfectly in the first trial which was made, and produced so excellent a steel that, after working about 100 tons, it has hardly been surpassed. I have used pig iron of all descriptions, North Welsh, South Welsh, Staffordshire, and Scotch, with the same result, viz., the production of an excellent steel; but I have not found, so far, anything like the great difference that I expected between hot and cold blast iron.

“The puddled-steel bar when broke shows clear crystalline and even fracture, and has the usual sonorous musical tone when struck, and it has all these distinguishing features by which steel is known from iron. It hardens to any degree that may be requisite, taking all the colours which develope themselves under the different degrees of heat, and may be made into such articles as ordinary chisels direct from the puddled bar; it will take a very fine polish, and has the same amount of elasticity that steel usually possesses.

“In fact, I believe it to be useful in the arts for all purposes for which steel is required, except, perhaps, for the finer descriptions of tools and cutlery. One extraordinary feature in regard to this wrought steel is, that it can be produced either of a harsh, hard, unyielding character, or of a soft, silky, fibrous structure, or of any of the grades between these two points, and that a bar, when quite cold, may be bent up double and perfectly close, without the slightest sign of fracture, but, when forced back again, a beautiful long silky fibre is apparent; or take a piece of steel plate, which, when partly cut through with chisel and then broken, appears beautifully fibrous; if made into a chisel, for instance, and hardened, it at once assumes a crystalline character peculiar to steel.

‘The lecturer next gave a tabular result of series of experiments, with regard to the improvements and deterioration which result from oft-repeated heating and laminating of bar iron.

“I would wish especially to call attention to this steel, as a material for large forgings and for ordnance purposes. Mallet, in his valuable work on ‘The construction of artillery,’ argues that cast steel is not suited for ordnance, on account of its deficiency in point of elasticity when compared with wrought iron or gun metal.

‘”I imagine that this want of elasticity may be partially accounted for in this manner, viz .— Cast-steel requires a very high temperature to render it fluid for founding, which necessarily causes a considerable amount of shrinking in the casting when passing from the fluid to the solid state, and the casting is of that peculiar crystalline structure which is produced under such conditions (weakened to a great extent also by the strain caused by shrinkage), unless the steel casting is afterwards subjected to the hammering or rolling process before mentioned, by which the particles of steel are relieved from their shrinking strain, and are consolidated and allowed to assume a comparative state of repose.

“In the manufacture of forgings from puddled steel, the case is very different. We possess, in the best puddled steel, as great, if not a greater amount of strength, than in the cast-steel under the most favourable circumstances, and as the particles of wrought or puddled steel are never in a state of fushion from the time of their first formation in the puddling furnace, the enormous contractile strain incident upon the transition of the steel from the fluid to the solid state, is avoided in the first place, and also the grain of the puddled steel may be so placed in the forging to be made, as the strain which it will be called upon to resist may require, and the different descriptions of steel, whether crystalline or fibrous, may be arranged in the best positions as regards strength and durability. Take, for instance, a large gun forging; the interior may be made of hard crystalline steel, to resist the enormous wear and tear, and the exterior of a softer and more fibrous description, as above described, a result evidently impossible with cast-steel, which must necessarily be homogenous, and be either entirely hard or entirely soft.

“It would not surprise me if, with more experience of this new manufacture, it should be found that wrought steel bears the same relative position with regard to cast steel that wrought iron does to cast iron.

“There has of late been a considerable controversy respecting an alleged deterioration of wrought iron when being made into large forgings from supposed crystallization of the material employed. I have always endeavoured to maintain that where this crystallization took place it was purely the result of carelessness or incompetence. With wrought steel, the danger from this cause is very materially lessened, indeed, rendered almost impossible, for the heat at which it welds is much less than that required to weld iron.

“Steel forgings have been made, at the Mersey steel and iron works, into piston rods (some with the piston forged solid, 18 inches diam.) In making these forgings no difficulty was experienced ; rather more time was required on account of the necessity of heating the steel slowly, and also that the hammer did not make the same impression on that it does upon iron. The effect of forging upon this steel is to consolidate it, and when broken in the usual manner, the appearance of the crystals is much finer than when it is rolled, as might be expected.

“Of all the various uses to which this steel may be applied, there are perhaps none so important its application to marine and railway purposes; for the former use, the material offers directly so considerable a saving in regard to weight, with an equal amount of strength, putting out of the question its durability and other advantages, that its universal adoption can hardly be doubted. A commencement has been made by the board of admiralty, who have used considerable quantities of Howell's homogeneous metal in the manufacture of marine steam boilers. In consequence of the successful trials which have been made at Woolwich, of Messrs. Shortridge, Howell, and Jessop’s homogenous metal, government have given directions for the use of that metal in the construction of steam boilers, one of which is ordered to be made for the 17 steam sloop Malacca, Captain Arthur Farqubar,”

“For railway purposes it is nothing new to propose steel for rails, points, and crossings, &c., as the attention of engineers has long been directed to it, both in this country and abroad, but the difficulty has hitherto been the cost of steel for such purposes. Some attempts have been made to harden the face of rails, and to steel the working parts of tyres, but, I believe, the result has not been altogether satisfactory, and the cost considerable ; but, on the contrary, with wrought-steel the tyres, points, or rails, may be made altogether of hard crystalline steel, or outer surface of hard and inner portion of fibrous steel, as required, and at a cost very materially less than that at which steel has hitherto been produced. With regard to the ultimate resistance to tension of steel as compared with iron, we find by the tables recently published the reports of experiments on the strength and other properties of metal for cannon, made by officers of the United States ordnance department, that the strength of various descriptions of English, American, and Russisn iron, tested by them, varied from 53,903 lbs. to 62,644 lbs. per square inch.

“The ultimate cohesion of tilted cast steel bars, as published in Table No. 9 of Mallet's work on the construction of artillery, is stated as 142,222 as the highest, with 88,057 as the mean per square inch. With wrought steel I have also found considerable variation in regard to tensile strength, more particularly when experimenting, as it is necessary constantly to do in new manufacture, with various descriptions of pig-iron and different charges. But when working regularly I have found no more difficulty in obtaining an uniform result than in the manufacture of iron, and with more experience we may safely expect some improvement even in this particular.

“The first bar that was tested broke at 173,817 lbs. per square inch. This extraordinary endurance I have not since equalled, the nearest approach to it being 142,464 lbs. per square inch. The average tensile strength of the steel, however, may be estimated at about 50 tons per square inch, or 112,000 lbs.

“This steel will also be found most useful for chains and ships’ cables, and although the few samples which I have had made all broke at the weld, evidently from want of experience on the part of the smith in working this new material, yet the strains borne at the Liverpool corporation chain-testing machine, even with the imperfect welds, are tolerably satisfactory.

‘Then follows a table, which gives the deflection of hammered and rolled bars of steel and iron, with increasing weights.

“The samples, as I have since discovered, were of too soft a description, and better results would have been obtained with harder steel, or perhaps the best results might be obtained by a mixture of hard and soft steel, the hard being placed above the neutral axis, the part which is deflected by compression and the soft which is deflected by extension.

“In several trials of the tensile strength of steel plates, it was found that the strain required to break a square inch of this steel varied from 44 to 50 tons.

“It may perhaps be well to mention also, that there is no difficulty working this steel, either hot or cold, in any manner in which the best descriptions of iron are worked, and that no particular knowledge or skill is required on the part of the workmen who use it.

“These results show the importance of steel as a material for boilers and shipbuilding purposes, as also for girders and bridges, as the economy in the weight of material required is of the greatest importance for these and for many other similar purposes.

“In the experiments which I have tried, I have taken every care to be as accurate as possible, and as the trials have gone on have had more and more cause to feel confidence in the result obtained, and, had time permitted, I should have been glad to have extended the trials, as the more I investigated the nature of this material the more satisfactory I found it. It do not for a moment anticipate that steel manufactured by this patent process will supplant the best description of steel, but I feel confident that it must come largely into use for most ordinary purposes, where cast-steel, from its great cost, cannot be used. Indeed, if I might indulge somewhat in prophecy, I would express belief that, in a few years, the manufacture of this wrought steel will have become as important a branch our national industry as that of iron now is.

“If the few facts which I have, however imperfectly placed before this society lead to further inquiry by others more competent, and having more leisure to conduct them to a successful issue, I shall be amply repaid for the time and pains that I have bestowed upon the subject.”

Patent - 1860 Court Case

1860 Court Case [3]

Note: 'Mayer' was Jacob Meyer

'WEDNESDAY.— Before Mr. Baron Wilde and a Special Jury.
Mayer v. Spence and Another.

'This was an action brought for an alleged infringement upon a letters patent in the manufacture of steel. The Solicitor General (Sir William Atherton), Mr. Hindmarsh, Mr. Webster, and Mr. J. A. Russell, were for the plaintiff; Mr. Knowles, Q.C, Mr. Manisty, Q.C, and Mr. Aston, for the defendants. Mr. Hindmarsh having opened the pleadings, The Solicitor General said that the plaintiff in this case was M. Jacob Mayer, a steel manufacturer in Prussia, and he brought this action against Mr. James Spence and Mr. Frederick Workington, manufacturers of steel and tin plates, at the Derwent Works, Workington, Cumberland. The action was brought in respect of an infringement which the plaintiff alleged had been committed by the defendants upon letters patent, or such portion of letters patent as remained undisclosed, granted in 1850, to M. Ewald Riepe. a foreigner, on a communication made to him by another foreigner. The plaintiff in this action, M. Mayer, was the assignee of M. Riepe, who had since died, and the patent had become vested in him.

'The patent was granted in 1850, and in March, 1859, the present plaintiff was advised to apply to the Attorney General to be allowed to disclaim or get rid of certain portions of the invention included in the original specification, in order that any proceedings with reference to the principal and most valuable part of the invention, might not be imperilled by reason of being coupled with other more doubtful matters. He should, therefore, confine himself to the parts of the patent which remained uudisclaimed.

'The patent related to the manufacture of steel in puddling furnaces, and the Jury would find that the manner of manufacture invented by M. Riepe, resulted in very great advantage to the manufacturers of steel. The consequence of this was, that the cost of the steel was considerably diminished, and this created a jealousy of, if not actual hostility to, the new invention by those who had been engaged in its manufacture by the old method, and who were undersold, unless they could avail themselves of the invention. Therefore, the Jury would not be surprised if persons who made steel by the old plan were called in very considerable numbers on the side of the defendants; but, with regard to them, he would merely remark that they came to an inquiry of this description with a very strong bias against the inventor.

'The questions would probably resolve themselves into these three : — 1st. Did Riepe invent that which he alleged he invented, and in respect to which the letters parent were granted to him? 2nd. If he did invent it, did he so describe it as to enable persons for whom the information was intended to know what it was that he really alleged he had discovered; and was it so described as to enable persons to carry out and practice the invention? ord. Had the defendants in the manufacture of steel — for it would not be denied that they had manufactured it — infringed upon the patent of Riepe, by working it with some mere colourable difference? For the consideration of these questions he should have to direct the attention of the Jury to the method of the manufacture of steel, which was in use previous to Riepe's patent.

'The Jury would be aware that steel was iron, the carbon of which had been got rid of to a considerable extent. When the ore was obtained, the first process which it underwent was tbat of smelting, which consisted of melting the ore in a furnace having a tank or depressed surface, by which the grosser matters were got rid of, and the iron was run out, being then called cast, pig, or crude. Malleable or wrought iron was made from this in the puddling furnace, which had been used since the year 1784, when a person named Cort took out a patent for it. The puddling furnace was only an ordinary reverberatory furnace, in which the molten metal was puddled, the furnaces being so constructed as to have two divisions, in the one part of which was placed the fuel, and in the other the materials which were to be acted npon, an aperture being left of sufficient size to allow the workman to introduce a bar of iron, bent at the end, and known as a "rabble," and the puddling consisted in the metal being worked about with this, whilst in a state of fusion. The object in the manufacture of wrought iron was to get rid of the carbon contained in the pig iron as far as possible. This was effected by the carbon contained in the metal being brought to the surface by puddling, and exposed to the action of the atmospheric air, the oxygen of which having a great affinity for the carbon, combined with it, and so the carbon was carried off. Between the pig and the wrought iron there was an intermediate stage, which formed the substance called steel. In the manufacture of steel it was not desired to get rid of the whole of the carbon, but of only a part, and the object to be arrived at, and which he (the Solicitor General) asserted Riepe had accomplished, was to be able to stop the decarbonization of the metal at the point at which sufficient carbon remained in the metal to constitute it good steel. Riepe's process was accomplished by the same puddling furnaces as had been universally used by the manufacturers of wrought iron for the last 70 years.

'Although the invention was both ingenious and useful, yet like so many other inventions, it appeared very simple after it was found out. For 70 years the manufacturers and skilled workmen who had their attention continually directed to this subject, had not accomplished it, and he thought that he should be able to satisfy the Jury that until 1850, when the patent was obtained by Riepe, no approach even to the manufacture of steel by the puddling furnace had been attained. Previous to the taking out of Riepe's patent, steel was manufactured from bars of wrought or completely decarbonised iron, and the round-about process of recarbonising that which had previously been decarbonised had to be resorted to. It was as if a person having to go five miles, went six miles, and then came back to the end of the fifth. The process which Riepe discovered enabled the manufacturer to stop at the fifth milestone, thus saving him two miles. The recarbonization was effected by decarbonized iron being put into troughs made of prepared materia], the various bars being imbedded in charcoal, and then subjected to a very considerable degree of heat, which was kept up for some days. By this the carbon contained in the charcoal was discharged into the wrought iron, and thus, that which had been malleable iron, became steel. Under Riepe's patent, the decarbonization of the pig-iron was continued up to the point at which good steel was the result, without its being allowed to continue so long as to convert it into wrought iron, and he thought the Jury would regard him as a meritorious inventor. But it was essential to the validity of every patent, that the patentee should, within a given time and by a written instrument, called a specification, describe the nature of his invention, and in what manner it was to be carried out. Had this been done in the present case ? If Riepe had complied with the law on this point, and he (the Solicitor-General) hoped to show them that he had, his title was not assailable; but if it should turn out that there had been a failure in that respect, and that the description was such as no person could understand or such as would mislead those who attempted to work by it, then the patent would be void. As to the description of the nature of the invention there could be no doubt: it was for "the making of steel in the puddling furnace." Had Riepe pointed out fairly and reasonably the manner in which others might practice the invention ? In calling the attention of the Jury to the specification, they would remember that a part of the invention had been disclaimed. The patentee declared that the undisclaimed part consisted in a peculiar manner of working in the puddling furnace. He said, "I employ the puddling furnace in the same way as for making wrought iron. I introduce a charge of about 280 lbs. of pig iron, and raise the temperature to redness. As soon as the metal begins to fuse and trickle down in a fluid state the damper is to be partially closed, in order to temper the heat. From twelve to sixteen shovelfulls of iron cinder discharged from the rolls or squeezing machine are added, and the whole is to be uniformly melted down. The mass is then puddled with the addition of a little black oxide of manganese, common salt, and dry clay." Up to this point the process was the same as in the manufacture of wrought iron and the inventor disclaimed everything up to this point. But he now came to that part of the specification which was new. After this mixture has acted for some minutes the damper is to be fully opened, and 40lbs. of pig iron) put into the furnace near the fire bridge, upon elevated beds of cinder prepared for the purpose. When this pig iron begins to trickle down and the mass on the bottom of the furnace begins to boil and throw from the surface the well-known blue jets of flame, the pig iron is raked into the boiling mass, and the whole well mixed well mixed together.” The following part was that which it was alleged that the defendants had infringed":- The mass soon swells up, and small grains begin to form in it, and break through the melted cinder on the surface.” This was the cardinal point in the invention. It had been well known for years that in the course of the manufacture of the wrought iron, at a certain period bubbles or grains began to appear, and continued for some time upon the surface of the molten metal. Riepe, noticing these grains, had found it possible to arrest the further decarbonisation of the metal at the point at which it was steel. He proceeded: - As soon as these grains appear, the damper is to be three-quarters shut and the process closely inspected whilst the mass is being puddled to and fro beneath the covering layer of cinder. During the whole of this process, the heat should not be raised above cherry redness or the welding heat of shear steel. The blue jets of flame gradually disappear, whilst the formation of grains continues, which grains very soon begin to fuse together, so that the mass becomes waxy, and has the above mentioned cherry-redness. If these precautions were not observed, the mass would pass more or less into iron, and no uniform steel product could be obtained." For the succeeding portion of the operation the damper was to be entirely shut, and part of the mass was collected into a ball, the remainder being kept covered with the cinder slacks. The ball was then put under the hammer, and worked into bars. Some considerable discussion would be raised as to the description, " cherry redness." In considering this specification, a reasonable construction should be put upon the language, not a strictly critical one. The specification said that the heat should not be raised above "cherry redness, or the welding heat of shear steel." The phrase " cherry redness," however, did not stand alone, but was coupled with such other words of description as made the meaning perfectly clear, and beyond all reasonable misapprehension or error. The words, "the welding heat of shear steel," showed clearly what was intended, and he should call persons of skill to prove that this was a sufficiently accurate description. The patentee said in his claims, " I do not claim the commencement of the above mentioned process for making steel in the puddling furnace ; but what I claim is the regulating the heat in the finishing process, and excluding the atmospheric air from the mass in the manner described, and also the use or addition of iron to the mass during the latter part of the process."

'He (the Solicitor-General) had now to consider the question, if Riepe had made the invention and properly described it, had the defendants infringed it ? Now, it never happened, when an action was brought by a patentee for the infringement of a patent, that the very thing as described in the specification had been done by the defendant. Of course, a person meaning to avail himself of the invention of another, without giving a fair compensation in the way of royalty, would set himself to devise means which would present on the surface an appearance of difference from the patent infringed. Therefore, the Jury would not expect that the plaintiff would be able to trace to the defendants the use of the exact process described. He should show, however, that the defendants manufactured steel in a puddling furnace with colourable changes from Riepe's invention, and that they had not done so previous to 1850.

'The defendants had been called upon, by the order of a Learned Judge, to allow an inspection to be made of the manner in which they worked, and it was from this inspection that the proof of the course adopted by them rested to-day. Mr. Campbell, Mr. Homersham, and Dr. Frankland, made the inspection on the 10th July, in the presence of Mr. Spence end Dr. Lyon Playfair, and they would describe the process which they witnessed. He thought that when the Jury had heard their evidence, they would be of opinion that the process adopted by the defendants was a mere attempt to give an appearance of difference where none really existed.

'The chief difference was, that instead of using the damper, they had two fires and two ashpit doors, by the use of which they obtained the same result as the plaintiff did by the use of the damper, for whilst the plaintiff excluded atmospheric air, the defendants admitted it, but in such a way as to consume the oxygen before it got to the metal. The defendants denied the infringement ; they denied that Riepe was the first inventor, and they denied that he had properly described his invention. They said further, that the invention was not of any use or advantage to the public. He (the Solicitor General) contended that the invention was one of considerable utility. The defendants had also thought fit to plead that the plaintiff did not enter the disclaimer, as alleged, according to the statute, but that the leave of the Attorney-General was obtained by fraudulent allegations. He (the Solicitor- General) was at a loss to know why such a plea had been put upon the record, and he did not think it was very creditable to the defendants to have done so. It was impossible to exaggerate or to overstate the importance of this question, and it was not credible that if any of the persons who had manufactured iron in the puddling furnacest so many years, had discovered this method of making steel, they would have kept it secret, and would not have communicated it to other manufacturers. The Learned Counsel concluded by further stating the nature of the evidence be should call, and by expressing a conviction that the Jury would find a verdict for the plaintiff.

'The specifications and other documents having been put in, the following evidence was called : —

'Mr. Wm. Clay, manager of the Mersey Steel and Iron Works, said: I have been intimately acquainted with the manufacture of iron all my life, I am also acquainted with the manufacture of steel. The iron which is obtained from the smelting furnace is highly carbonised. There was a process invented many years ago for the purpose of converting cast into malleable iron, called the puddling process. It was the invention of a Mr. Cort. In puddling iron a reverberatory furnace is used, and there is a fire place in which the fire is ignited; it is next to the receptacle in which the iron to be acted upon is placed. That is covered with an arch in order that the heat may be thrown down upon the iron below. The fire passes over the bridge and over the iron in the bed of the furnace. That is usually called a puddling furnace. In puddling the pig iron is placed in the bed of the furnace, and is kept there until it is melted by the action of the fire, when the workman then rakes it about. These furnaces invariably have dampers at the top of the chimneys. In the course of puddling, as soon as the metal melts, it is agitated with a "rabble," and when the metal is in a boiling state, a gas can be observed bubbling up. Towards the end of the process the agitation caused by the bubbles is very considerable. During the process a flame of a bluish colour is emitted, and what are called "grains" ultimately appear. The object of the puddler is to sustain the heat, and continue it so as to effect the perfect de-carbonisation of the iron. It is then taken from the furnace in balls, to a hammer or squeezer, in order to be consolidated. The metal is then wrought iron. Before the date of the patent which is the subject of the present action, steel was made by the "converting system," or " cementation," the object of which was to carbonise the iron. In performing that process wrought iron was put in a closed vessel, surrounded with carbon, and the vessel was then heated, the heat being kept up for several days. The surfaces of the metal were more carbonised than the centres by this process, and its size was limited by the size of the vessel. Before the date of this patent I had never heard of the manufacture of steel in a puddling furnace. My attention was called to the subject in October, 1857, when I was induced to make an experiment of it in an ordinary puddling furnace, assisted by an ironmaster, named Fermstone, and an ordinary puddler. We followed an epitome of the specification, and the result was a puddled bar of steel of very excellent quality. I have recently looked through the specification, and the process adopted by us was exactly the same as the one there described. Our conduct, when the grains appeared, was very different from that followed for the purpose of producing wrought iron, for, instead of continuing the heat, we regulated it. The heat necessary to produce granulation, and the blue jets of flame are well known. I know the welding beat of shear steel, and the heat during the granulation did not exceed that heat. The colour presented by the furnace depends upon the degree of light by which it is observed. There would be an apparent difference of 500 degrees between two furnaces of the same heat looked at, the one by daylight and the other in the dark. I and my partners took a licence, and since then we have manufactured puddled steel very largely. The phrase "welding heat of shear steel" describes accurately the heat used, but "cherry redness" does not convey any definite impression to my mind. The language of the specification is sufficient to instruct an ordinary workman as to the process to be adopted, and it has done so…… Cross-examined by Mr. Knowles: My firm are not the real plaintiffs in this action. I don't know whether we are the only licensees. Report says that Messrs. Naylor, Vickers, and Co., of Sheffield, are also licensees. I have heard of their name in connexion with this cause, but I don't know that they are the plaintiffs. I don't know M. Mayer, and I don't take my license from him ; but from Naylor, Vickers, and Co. We are not the exclusive licensees; but Naylor, Vickers, and Co., Mr. John Brown, and a firm in Scotland, use this process. Puddling furnaces have been used for seventy years for the manufacture of iron, and the damper is invariably used for regulating the admission of the atmosphere, and therefore of admitting or excluding the oxygen. The terms, red and white heat, are well known terms. The amount of carbon contained in cast iron is from 2 to 3 per cent, according to the number of the iron. In every process of converting cast into malleable iron, there is a point at which steel is obtained. The quality of the steel varies according to the point at which decarbonization is stopped. The puddling furnace is not built so as to obtain the greatest amount of heat. The greatest heat obtained during the melting process is a red or yellow heat. At the time when the mass boils by the old process, the metal is at a white heat I know from books that, before the date of this patent, steel was made direct from cast iron in Styria, not in a puddling furnace, but in a Catalan forge. Cinders were always used in the iron puddling process : they float at the top, and always have the effect of excluding the atmosphere from the melted mass. I know the patent of Schafhausel, the object of which is an improvement in the manufacture of malleable iron by the introduction of oxide of manganese and other ingredients…. .Mr. Knowles: Now listen to this specification. "If a harder iron for con version into steel is required, I employ three or four shovelfulls of the slack which is used in rolling iron, and three shovelfulls of the cinder that runs out of the balling furnace." That is, he uses a larger amount of cinder, so as more effectually to exclude the atmosphere, is it not ? — I don't put that construction upon it The harder iron is produced by the more effectually excluding the oxygen of the atmosphere? — Yes …. And it goes on, " but if I wish to obtain still harder iron, I use the usual quantity of hammer slacks, but add a shovelfull of cinder from the balling furnace." Is not the result of that what is called puddled steel? — Certainly not …. The hard iron is for conversion into steel, and the harder iron is not for conversion into steel? — Neither of those are steel … When experimenting in making steel by Riepe's patent, we did not stop at redness as directed in the description. The manganese and other ingredients are the same as those directed to be used by Schafhausel ; in using them, we depended on our own judgment, no definite amount being specified. The damper was up when we raised the temperature of the furnace to melting heat. When the iron began to melt down, we threw in a quantity of cinder, the damper baying been partially lowered. The elevated bed of cinders is put in before the process commences, and the heat which melts the metal is not sufficient to melt the cinders. The bed would require the action of a greater amount of heat. Before we commenced puddling, we put in the 40lbs. of pig iron to make the metal boil more completely. We constantly use the product of this operation when we want the harder qualities of iron. The heat used in the process is regulated by the experience of the puddler. Shear steel is steel piled and hammered to make it more homogeneous. It does not require so much heat to weld shear steel as to melt it, but I can't give the degrees. Towards the close of the process, when the grains appeared, we closed the damper entirely, practically speaking, but it was not so closely shut as to prevent the egress of smoke. The balling is the finishing process.

'Re-examined: Naylor, Vickers, and Co., gave us the licence as the agents for M. Riepe, not as principals.

'Mr. Firmstone, manager of extensive ironworks at Middlesbro', confirmed the evidence of the last witness as to the specification being sufficiently definite in its description of the patent, and said that the directions it gave to the workmen were ample for working it. They had nothing to do but to carry out the directions of the specification, and steel would be the result.

'Mr. Dugald Campbell, consulting and analytical chemist, London, said he had had considerable experience in the manufacture of steel and iron. He was appointed, by order of the Court, to visit the works of the defendants, with Dr. Frankland and Mr. Homersham, to inspect the manufacture of steel. He there met with Mr. Spence and Dr. Lyon Playfair. The furnace was an ordinary puddling furnace, except that there were two fire places. There was no damper at the top of the chimney, but remains where a damper had been. Dampers were attached to the other furnace chimneys. The furnace had been previously heated. A small quantity of cinder or slack was put in the bed of the furnace. Then a quantity of iron was put in, 480 lbs. they were told; the charging door was then shut, and the ashpit doors (the doors attached to the two fireplaces) were thrown open. The iron began to fuse, and when the charge was fully melted, it was covered with slack, and then the outer ashpit door was closed. The result of that would be to lower the temperature. About 5lbs. of common salt were put in. When the grains of metal first appeared, the inner ashpit door was closed and the outer one opened. The effect of that upon the heat would not be material, but it would deprive the atmospheric air of its oxygen. A few minutes afterwards, the metal became in a waxy state, and balling commenced. Part of the charge was made into a ball, and this was removed under a hammer, the remainder being kept covered with slack. This was repeated until four balls were obtained. They were then rolled, and the product was steel. He thought the product was small, but it was not weighed. The metal appeared to be wasted in the furnace by being burnt away, and witness thought the operators were unable to regulate the temperature sufficiently. He had seen steel made by Riepe's patent, and considered the process adopted by the defendants to be substantially the same. He was not aware that steel had ever been made in the puddling furnace before this patent was taken out. The directions given in the specification were sufficient for the manufacture of steel. ..Cross-examined: There was never a time during the inspection at the defendants' works when both ashpit doors were shut. By the plaintiff's process, oxygen was excluded by the non- admission of atmospheric air, and by the defendants' process the air was admitted, but the oxygen was prevented from entering by being consumed in passing over the inner fire. … Mr. Knowles: And do you consider these are the same processes? — My impression is that the result is the same.

'Dr. Frankland, chemist to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, proved that he was present at the operation described by the last witness. His impression was that the process followed was substantially the same as Riepe's, although there were differences in detail. The welding heat of shear steel was about 2700 or 2800 degs. Fahrenheit, and the melting heat 2900 degs. Mr. S. C. Homersham, civil engineer, said he was one of the inspectors on the occasion referred to. He also considered the process as worked by the defendants as substantially the same as Riepe’s. In cross-examination, he said he did not consider the heat white as any part of the process. It was certainly below the welding heat of shear steel.

‘David Jones, steel heater, formerly in the employ of the defendants, said he worked for them at the time the furnaces were first built, when Mr. Spence took out his patent. Dampers were always used when steel was being made in the furnaces, but not when iron was being made.

‘Wm. Williams, puddler, formerly in the employ of Spence and Co., confirmed the evidence of the last witness as to dampers being used at the works, and described the process adopted in the manufacture of steel.

‘Mr. Joseph Bramwell, engineer, said he had had considerable experience in iron works, but had never heard of the manufacture of steel by the puddling process until 1850. He confirmed the evidence of previous witnesses as to specification being sufficient to work by. He considered it to be substantially like Riepe's, with the exception of the final pig, or the 40lbs. put in during the process. The final pig gave certainty and rapidity in the cooling of the mass.

‘Mr. E. A. Cowper, consulting engineer, Great George-street, Westminster, said he was very intimately acquainted with iron and steel. He entirely agreed with Mr. Bramwell in the evidence be had given.

‘This completed the case for the plaintiff.

‘Mr. Knowles, addressing his Lordship, submitted that the specification was defective and insufficient; that it was contradictory in its terms, and that if its directions were followed, the product of steel could not be obtained. The patent was stated to be for an improvement in, and peculiar manner of, working in the puddling furnace. But the working in a puddling furnace was no part of the claim, because the patentee said, "I do not claim the commencement of the above-described process for making steel in the puddling furnace." It was clear to any-one who read the specification, that the object was to work in the puddling furnace, and thereby produce steel at a low temperature, the notion being that a high temperature would prevent the process from being effected, because it would carry it too far, and instead of making steel, would make malleable iron. The patent was void, because it spoke of raising the temperature to redness, which was insufficient to carry out the operation, and thus it was calculated to mislead. It was admitted by the witnesses that redness was an insufficient heat, and would have no effect at all. He wanted to know what was meant by "cherry redness, or the welding heat of shear steel ?" It was admitted that cherry redness was not synonymous with the welding heat of shear steel, but was a much inferior degree of heat that would not fuse at all, and therefore the direction of this specification was contradictory and ambiguous. How was the workman to find out which description was the right one, except by experiment ? From what followed it was certain that a low degree of heat was what was in the mind of the patentee. But besides these, there were other objections to the specification. The patentee claimed the regulating of the heat in the finishing process by shutting the damper entirely down, and excluding the atmospheric air. Now, if either of these points were old, the patent was clearly a failure, and it was now in evidence that excluding the atmospheric air from the mass by the addition of cinders, was a very old process in the manufacture of malleable iron. The making of steel was exactly the same thing, only stopping at an earlier period, and therefore that was old, and could not be the subject of a patent. He submitted that on these grounds the patent was a failure, and could not be sustained.

‘Mr. Manisty also rose to urge some other objections, when Mr. Baron Wilde said that he did not intend to non-suit at present. He would give leave to move upon these points.

‘The Solicitor General urged that the points should be clearly stated. Mr. Baron Wilde said that it would not do to tie the defendants down to particular points. Mr. Knowles then proceeded to address the Jury. He said the case was a most important one, for the result of a verdict for the plaintiff would be that it would prevent a great number of manufacturers from doing that which they had been doing for years, long before this patent was obtained; and be submitted that their interests should not be sacrificed to those of the patentee. Who M. Mayer, the plaintiff in the present action, was, they were not particularly informed ; but it was quite clear that the whole interest of the patent, so far as the English public was concerned, rested with a certain firm in Sheffield, who, it appeared, had granted a license to the Mersey Steel Company, for in their hands all that appertained to the patent rested, and they were substantially, though not nominally, the plaintiffs. He (Mr. Knowles) had taken several objections to the specification, and he held the truth to be that Riepe was not very well acquainted with that which he had specified, but that he had proceeded under the notion, prevalent at that time, that steel should be made at a low temperature. In doing so he had fallen into mistakes of description, which in the end would prove fatal to his case. He believed that there could be no doubt that the process was known before the patent was granted, and in that case, of course, there was an end to the validity of the claim. Iron had been made by the puddling process many years, and in doing so it must frequently have happened that steel had also been made. He should call a very eminent scientific witness, who would show that there could be no doubt but that it was well known, before the date of this patent, that steel could be manufactured by this process. It was described in various works, and although in some the Catalan furnace was the one used, yet he should show that it was not so in all. A very learned German writer, Schubarth, said, " Natural steel is now scarcely ever made from the ore in the furnace, but is made from cast iron containing much carbon ;" and he remarked, " This operation is in no respect different from the process of making bar iron from cast iron, than that the conversion under the blast is slow. The passage into bar iron requires the direct application of the blast. By the gradual action of the blast upon the cast iron, the carbon was burned off by degrees, and the workman must have it in his power to stop the process of oxidation in a moment, when he believes the steel bas arrived at its proper quality." Now, that was exactly what was claimed by this patentee, although the writer did not say how it was to be done ; and he should be able to show that the workman had the power referred to, and that he had been in the habit of exercising it by lowering the damper. But besides this, it was also known that if cinders were put into the furnace, they would melt before the iron, and being of a lighter nature than the iron, they floated on the top, and protected the iron from the atmosphere, the carbon being enabled to combine with the oxygen of the iron by the action of the puddler. Other works, which he would not refer to at length, showed the same thing, and they also proved that the use of iron slack, or cinder, was well known to those persons who worked in iron furnaces. This was fatal to the patent, for it was one of the things claimed in it. It bore the date of 1850, but from that time to 1857 or 1858, when it was brought under Mr. Clay's attention, nothing was heard of it. What had become of it in the interim ? It was said to have been known at Low Moor; then why was it given up there ? It was probably given up there because they attempted to work it according to the letter of the patent, at a low heat, and it was found that the heat of "cherry redness" was totally insufficient. It was evident that the process was not new, and the question now arose, had Mr. Spence infringed the patent ? The patentee did not claim the commencement of the process, but the specification did not distinguish what was the commencement of the process and what the finishing process, and this would be a good objection to the specification. But, according to the defendant's evidence, the finishing process began almost at the last line, and, therefore, all that preceded was not claimed. The closing of the damper for three-quarters, when the grains appeared, was not the commencement of the finishing process, and if his Learned Friend asserted that it was, it only showed what uncertainty there was about it, for he differed from his own witnesses. According to the evidence, the finishing process was not until the end, and the only regulation of heat referred to in that part of the specification was, that as soon as the mass was finished so far, the fire was stirred to keep up the heat for the succeeding operation, the damper was shut, and part of the mass collected into a ball, the remainder being kept covered by cinder slack. Was there anything new in closing the damper at the final moment ? He (Mr. Knowles) should show that it had always been done in the manufacture of malleable iron, and he should submit that it could not be the subject of a patent in a modification of the same process. But he had a large mass of evidence to show that steel had been made in the mode pointed out. To understand this, he must refer to the patent of Schafhausel, taken out in 1835, which provided an improvement in the mode of manufacturing malleable iron. It might be said that this referred in its terms only to iron ; and no doubt that was so, but whatever the articles might be called, the question was, were the products the same and accomplished in the same manner? This patent showed the process by which the patentee obtained wrought iron, and he said that if he wanted a harder iron for conversion iuto steel, he used a more effectual covering of cinder slack. If he wished to obtain a still harder iron, he added an additional shovelfull of cinder from the balling furnace. Now, what Schafhausel called "still harder iron," was in reality puddled steel. But his patent was chiefly taken out for the purpose of pointing out certain ingredients which were used as " physic," which were black oxide of manganese, salt, and dry clay. Now, Riepe adopted exactly the same " physic" without alluding to it as belonging to the previous patentee. When Schafhausel came to this country, he sold his patent to Messrs. Solly, a firm in Staffordshire, who worked it in conjunction with their own puddling furnaces, having the usual damper, and they produced hard iron, or steel iron, or whatever they liked to call it, but it was in reality puddled steel. This had since been the common mode of working in Staffordshire and other places, and the proprietors of a number of those establishments would be called to prove that they had towards the end of this process closed the damper in the same way as was directed in Riepe's patent. Cort, in his patent which had been mentioned before, spoke of steel and iron being manufactured in reverberatory furnaces, and said the steel was of excellent quality. He (Mr. Knowles) should put several other patents before the Jury, principally for the purpose of showing that the use of cinder-slack was as old as the history of the art. In the specification of Horton, dated 1833, reference was made to the workman being prepared to stop the process at the proper moment, according to his judgment. This must always depend on the judgment of the workman; and to give directions for the damper to be closed at any moment was only misleading, for it was influenced by many circumstances. The plaintiff, however, had not only to show that his process was a new one, but he must also show that the defendants had in- fringed his patent. Now, Mr. Spence had long been in the habit of making wrought-iron in the puddling furnace, and in the year 1857, he learned that the Mersey Company had got Riepe's patent, and he became acquainted with its working, under the impression that it was an excellent invention. He tried to get a license to manufacture under the patent, but was unable to do so; and the result was, that he took out a patent of his own, for the use of two furnaces in the manner which had been described. Now, he (Mr. Knowles) submitted with great confidence, that this was no infringement of Riepe's patent; for although the same object was attained, yet the mode of operation was very different, and that was a good subject for a patent. This, he held, would have been fatal to the plaintiffs case, had not his Learned Friend called two witnesses who had formerly worked for the defendants; but he (Mr. Knowles) did not think their testimony would be credited. Williams, he believed, had never been engaged in puddling steel, but only iron. But a part of Jones' evidence, which entirely discredited the whole, was that in which he said that he always used the damper when making puddled steel, but not when making iron, a statement which of course would not be believed. It bad been alleged that the damper was taken off the furnace when the gentlemen appointed to inspect the operation on the defendants' premises were present, and that was easily explained. Dampers were attached to all the furnaces, because they were principally used for puddling iron ; but on that occasion, the damper was taken off in order that the inspectors might see the more clearly that it was not used. His Learned Friend had made some remarks upon the plea that had been entered, that the plaintiff did not obtain the disclaimer according to the statute, but that he acted fraudulently. Now, of three things in the patent, the plaintiff disclaimed two, and he also wanted to disclaim those terms which he (Mr. Knowles) considered were fatal to the specification, namely—"cherry redness" in the two places in which it occurred. That was very important, for it showed that Mayer felt his danger. This was opposed, however, by Mr. Spence. The ground of the application was that Riepe was not well acquainted with the English language, but the fact was that he had taken out the patent, having derived it from another foreigner, just because of his knowledge of English. The Attorney General refused to allow him to disclaim this part, and the word "fraudulent" was entered upon the plea by Mr. Justice Willes himself. These were the grounds on which be (Mr. Knowles) held that the specification was invalid that the infringement had not been proved, and that the defendants were entitled to a verdict.

‘At this stage of the proceedings the Court adjourned. On Thursday morning, on the opening of the Court, Mr. Baron Wilde, addressing the Solicitor General asked him what construction he put upon the claim which was described as " the regulating heat of the finishing process," because the case ought not to go further without some understanding as to what they were doing What was meant by the finishing process ? There were two parts of the process desoribed to which these words might apply. One was that which spoke of the damper being three quarters shut, as soon as the grains made their appearance, for the regulation of the heat. The other was the part which gave direction for the closing of the damper when the metal is to be made into balls that, too, was a portion in respect to which there was a regulation of heat. He supposed the Solicitor-General would say that the "finishing process" applied to both.

‘The Solicitor General said he should certainly contend that the words applied to both.

‘Mr. Knowles said he should contend that it referred only to the latter.

‘Mr Baron Wilde said he had thought of putting the case to the Jury according to the plaintiff’s interpretation, but if he should happen to be wrong in doing so, he should be putting the defendants to the expense of another trial. Therefore, he (the Judge) was bound to make his own selection, and to determine for himself which of the two portions the words applied to.

‘The Solicitor General pointed out the reasons why he held that the finishing process commenced with the words "as soon as the grains appear, &c," and that they were not confined to the direction as to the balling operation.

‘Mr. Baron Wilde said the claim was undoubtedly ambiguous; indeed, it was doubtful whether it was not so much so as to be void, but upon that he had not now to give an opinion. In his judgement, the finishing process must be taken to apply to the latter portion, for that was the only part to which the terms could apply. If the Solicitor-General liked, he would leave the question to the Jury in the form in which he (the Solicitor General) held that it was to be understood, if he would consent to the defendants taking a verdict if he were wrong.

‘The Solicitor- General said he should prefer his Lordship taking his own course in directing the Jury. ‘Mr. Baron Wilde : What I shall pat to the Jury will be, whether the finishing process — that is, the balling process — is new, and whether it has been infringed ?

‘The following evidence was then given : — Dr. Lyon PIayfair, professor of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, said he had given considerable attention to the subject of steel and iron, and had published a work on the subject. The average quantity of carbon in cast iron was 3 per cent.; in steel, from 1/2 to 3/4 per cent.; and in wrought-iron, rarely more than two-tenths per cent. The process of making steel from the ore had been known from the time of Aristotle—(Laughter) — and from cast iron for several centuries. That had been done abroad, so far as he knew. Numerous publications had given accounts of it, a number of which he proceeded to quote. They were from the works of Baudrimont, Thenard, Dumas, Schubarth, and other foreign chemists, and they gave accounts of the manner of manufacturing steel from cast iron. Having read these, Dr. Playfair proceeded to say that he had read Riepe's patent. In his judgment, if Riepe's description were followed, steel could not be made; certainly not if the temperature there mentioned were adhered to. By the term redness, when used in scientific works, a temperature of about 1000 degrees was understood. The temperature at which cast-iron melted was generally taken at 2700 degrees, consequently cherry redness could not melt it. He was present at an experiment made at the defendants' works, and the account which had been given agreed with what he had noticed, with the exception that during the melting the heat of the furnace was a strong white heat. In his judgment, Spence's process with the two fires was essentially different from the plaintiff's, for the following reasons. In Riepe's, the damper was shut down and the air excluded, and consequently the oxygen, the effect of this being to lower the temperature; but in Spence's furnace, the front ashpit was closed, the back one open, and as much air entered as before, carrying with it sufficient oxygen to keep up the temperature. This, in his opinion, was a great advantage, because as the grains appeared, it was necessary that the slack should be well melted to allow the grains, after they have lost sufficient carbon, to fall to the bottom of the molten mass, and because these grains were more difficult to fuse than common iron, greater heat being required. In consequence of the greater heat employed, the slack separated more readily when the ball was put under the hammer, and in that respect Spence's process had an advantage over Riepes’s.

‘Cross examined : Some of the extracts which he had quoted referred to the Catalan furnace, the others to furnaces with a blast, commonly used in Germany, but none of them described the puddling furnace. He could not tell whether "the welding heat of shear steel" was higher than "cherry redness," for want of practical experience, as he had never seen steel welded.

‘Mr. Calvert, professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution, Manchester, agreed with the evidence of Dr. Playfair as to the differences between Riepe's and Spence's processes. There was no advantage to be gained by any reduction of temperature caused by the shutting of the damper, but a high heat was more beneficial than a lower one, provided the oxygen could be kept down. Steel could not be made if the directions as to "cherry redness" were followed. The heat at which steel would weld was higher than cherry redness, but rather below the melting heat of steel.

‘Mr. Longridge, civil engineer, agreed with the previous witnesses as to the impracticability of Riepe's description.

‘Mr. Spence said he was one of the defendants in this action. He had not made steel until about two years ago, when be became acquainted with Riepe's patent, and also took out one of his own. David Jones, who was called yesterday, had been ball fumaceman ; and the other man, Williams, was only employed a few weeks at his works. He confirmed the statements made by Mr. Knowles, in his address to the Jury, as to the reason for taking off the damper during the inspection, and for having dampers affixed to the other furnace chimneys. .. In cross-examination, he said that he studied Riepse's specification, and attempted to work by it whilst negotiating with Naylor, Vickers, and Co. for a license. He did not, however, obtain the license, in consequence of their requiring a condition to which he could not agree. . . In re-examination, he said that he could make nothing when he attempted to work by Riepe's specification.

‘Mr. Joseph Beazley, ironmaster, Smethwick, near Birmingham, said the specimen of "steel iron" produced was made by him before 1850, in the puddling furnace, and it was the same as the metal called puddled steel. He described the manner in which it was manufactured. The heat was regulated by the damper; cinder slack and "physic" were used; and the process closely corresponded with that of the patentee, with the exception that he obtained as great a heat as possible. He made some hundreds of tons before 1850, and he himself had made chisels from it. . . .In cross-examination, he said that it was always the custom to lower the damper at the balling process, but a difference he made in the process formerly practised, was to bring out the metal as soon as a ball could be formed, instead of waiting till the whole metal could be made into balls. The metal remaining in the furnace was not always kept entirely covered with I slack, but as nearly so as possible. He was not aware, up to a very recent period, that such a patent as Reipe's existed. The process adopted by him was quite different in that he adopted higher temperatures, but in other respects it was exactly the same. He had not tried to make steel according to Riepe's specification, and he did not think it possible to do so.

‘The Judge remarked that he must draw the attention of the Solicitor General to the evidence, for unless he could convince the Jury that this gentleman was telling an entire falsehood, which he did not think at all possible, it was fatal to his case. The description appeared to him to embrace the whole of the patentee's process.

‘The Solicitor General admitted that it was so, and that he should be confined to the balling process. He should, however, like more witnesses to be called.

Mr. Solly, of the firm of Solly Brothers, Tipton, Staffordshire, said that before 1850 his firm made steel iron, and described the process adopted, which corresponded with that described by the last witness. They made 4000 or 5000 tons before 1843. They had purchased the patent of Schafhausel. … Cross examined.— The hardest of the steel iron thus made was used for making tools, but the greater part was sent to Sheffield to be converted. Usually the first ball taken out was harder than that which followed. It was puddled steel, but had to be converted, because it was not sufficiently hard for the purposes to which it had to be applied. The product of the furnaces was unequal. The Solicitor General said that, under these circumstances, he thought he ought to allow his client to be called. Should he be allowed to move upon his Lordship's ruling as to the meaning of the finishing process ?

‘Mr. Baron Wilde said he thought it would be fair that the Court above (Queen's Bench) should first deal with his ruling, and he made a minute to this effect—"The plaintiff to be called if the Court think that my ruling is wrong. The case is not to be sent to a new trial unless the Court are of opinion that, assuming the defendants' evidence to be true, there is still some question of novelty sufficient to send to a Jury "

‘Mr. Manisty : Then, we can practise the process as described by the specification ?

‘Mr. Baron Wilde : Yes, certainly.

‘Mr. Knowles suggested that the better way would be for the Jury to give a verdict upon the plea of novelty. ‘The SolicitorGeneral: Oh! but you can’t force me to go to the Jury. I can elect to be non-suited at all events. ‘The plaintiff was non-suited accordingly, it being understood that the plaintiff could apply to the Court of the Queen’s Bench to decide the meaning of the " finishing process," whether it referred simply to the regulation of the heat at the balling, as Mr. Baron Wilde had ruled or whether it included the whole process from the time when the grains appeared.

‘Mayer v. Firth and others.— This was a case precisely similar to the above. The defendants were Messrs T. Firth and Sons, Norfolk Steel Works,' Sheffield. … The Solicitor-General said he would have the Jury sworn, and take the same course as in the last case. . . .The Learned Judge suggested that the record had better be withdrawn until the other case had been settled. .. .The Solicitor-General said he would have done so, but that there were proceedings pending in Chancery, and he did not wish to compromise them. He should therefore prefer to take a non-suit. … The plaintiff was, therefore, non-suited on the same terms as in the last case …. On the application of the Solicitor-General, his Lordship said that he would of course stay execution.’

1861 Court Case

1861 Court Case [4]


'Court of Queen's Bench, Saturday.— ...... MEYER v. SPENCE and MEYER v. FIRTH & OTHERS.

'These were cases of great importance to manufacturers of steel. The first action was brought, nominally, by M. Jacob Meyer, steel manufacturer, of Bochum, in the kingdom of Prussia, against Messrs. Spence and Worthington, manufacturers of steel and tin plates, Workington, Cumberland, to recover damages for the infringement of a patent granted to Ewald Riepe, on the 25th January, 1850, for an improvement in, and pecular manner of, working ' in the puddling furnace, of which patent the plaintiff was assignee. There was a second action brought by the same plaintiff, in which Messrs. T. Firth and Sons, of the Norfolk Steel Works, were tbe defendants, under precisely similar circumstances, the result of the former case governing this also. The trial took place before Mr. Baron Wilde, at the last Summer Assizes, at Liverpool, and was reported in the Independent at cousiderable length at that time. The plaintiff was at that trial non-suited, leave, however, being given to move the Court of Queen's Bench. Subsequentlv, an application was made, which resulted in the Court granting a rule to set aside the nonsuit, and also for a new trial.

'Mr. Knowles, Q.C. (with whom were Mr. Manisty, Q.C, and Mr. Aston) showed cause against the rule; which was supported by the Solicitor- General, Mr. Hmdmarsh, Mr. Webster, and Mr. J. A. Russell.

'The patent alleged to have been infringed was one by which it was contended the manufacture of steel and wrought iron from pig iron was greatly facilitated. By the old puddling process pig iron, to be made into steel, was entirely decarbonised, or converted into wrought iron, and then to some extent re-carbonised ; but the advantage of Riepe's process was the decarbonisation of iron could be stopped exactly at the point when steel was produced, without the necessity for the round-about method of first making wrought iron and then re-carbonising it into steel. Riepe's specification thus describes the patent : —

' "I employ tbe puddling furnace in the same way as for making wrought iron. I introduce a charge of abont 180lbs. of pig iron, and raise the temperature to redness. As soon as the metal begins to fuse [as transcribed above for the earlier trial] ....."

'The part of this specification claimed as new, was that commencing, "After this mixture has acted," &c, and the part alleged to have been infringed was that which described the operations after "the mass swells up and small grains begin to form in it," &c. In his claims, the patentee said — "I do not claim the commencement of the above-mentioned process for making steel in the puddling furnace ; but what I claim is the regulating the heat in the finishing process, and excluding the atmospheric air from the mass in the manner described, and also the use or addition of iron to the mass during the latter part of the process." The chief part of the argument turned on the construction of this specification, and especially the meaning of the expression "regulating the heat in the finishing process," it being contended, for the defendants, that this applied only to the directions given as to closing the damper when the metal is to be made into balls; whilst, for the plaintiff, it was urged that these words not only applied to that part of the process, but also to the damper being shut when the grains made their appearance. The defendants further urged that it was impossible to make steel by following Riepe's directions, for iron would not fuse at all at "cherry redness, or the welding heat of shear steel," and, moreover, these being different temperatures, the specification was contradictory and ambiguous. They denied that there was any novelty in Riepe's invention, and that the process under which they worked was merely a colourable alteration of Riepe's . . In support of the rule it was urged that if a reasonable construction were put upon the language of the specification, the meaning was perfectly clear ; that the process was really an invention of Riepe's and that the patent had been infringed by the defendants, with mere colourable differences ... The Court came to a conclusion that the non-suit was right, and that there was no novelty in Riepe's supposed invention which could be the subject of a patent. — The rule was therefore discharged.'

Broader Context

For more information on the process, and its broader context, see K. C. Barraclough's Thesis here [5]

The author notes that in 1854, 3878 tons of puddled steel were produced in Westphalia. He also provides much information on the quantities produced on the Continent and in the UK. Regarding the puddled steel made at Ebbw Vale by George Parry, 'the puddling process was quite capable of removing phosphorus from the pig iron, which Bessemer's process most definitely was not.'

It appears that puddled steel was still being made in 1868 by John Gjers at Middlesbrough and that James Kitson was making puddled steel at Monkbridge in 1876. Puddled steel was till being made in France in 1900.

Barraclough notes that 'up to 1880, puddled steel could, in a sense, be considered as being complementary to Bessemer steel, the one for dealing with phosphoric irons and the other with haematite irons. This, in turn, explains why the puddled steel process assumed more importance on the Continent since low phosphorus ores were relatively scarce in both France and Germany. Thus, although the making of steel in this way has now been almost forgotten, its value at the time should not be underestimated; it most certainly contributed to the division of the steel industry, in the second half of the nineteenth century, into the bulk steel and the special steels sector.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer, 17 May 1872
  2. Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Friday 22 January 1858
  3. Sheffield Independent - Saturday 25 August 1860
  4. Sheffield Independent, 1 June 1861
  5. [2] 'The Development of the Early Steelmaking Processes - An Essay in the History of Technology' by Kenneth Charles Barraclough. Thesis submitted to the University of Sheffield for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, May 1981