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Edward Geisler Herbert

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Edward G. Herbert (1869-1938) of Edward G. Herbert

1869 March 23rd. Born at Dedham, near Colchester

1881 Living at Nottingham with his parents, William F., a retired farmer, and Marion his wife. Also siblings.[1]


1938 Obituary [2]

EDWARD GEISLER HERBERT devoted many years of his life to research into the cutting of steel and the properties of tool steels, and his work affords an outstanding example of what may be accomplished by disinterested research on the part of an individual engaged in commercial manufacture. He was born near Colchester in 1869 and became a premium apprentice in the Nottingham works of Messrs. James Hill and Company, manufacturers of lace-making machinery. After studying science at University College, London, he graduated in 1889 and then took an additional course in engineering subjects. In 1892 he became partner in Messrs. Richardson and Herbert, electrical engineers, of Manchester, and after the dissolution of the partnership in 1895 he carried on the business in his own name and also commenced the manufacture of machine tools. The firm was reconstituted in 1902 as a limited liability company under the style Edward G. Herbert, Ltd., makers of engineers' tools and testing machinery.

Mr. Herbert held the position of joint managing director of the firm until his retirement in 1928; he retained his seat on the board of the company until his death, which occurred at West Didsbury, Manchester, on 9th February 1938. Among his earlier inventions were an automatic file-testing machine and a tool-steel testing machine. It was, however, during the last fifteen years of his life that he carried out his greatest work; he invented the "Pendulum Hardness Tester" in 1923 and the "Cloudburst" hardness testing and work-hardening machine in 1927.

In 1923 he was elected a Member of the Institution. He had been a member of the Cutting Tools Research Committee from its inception in 1919, and he carried out many important investigations in connection with its work. He received the Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal for his first paper to the Institution, "Measurement of Cutting Temperatures", which he presented in 1926. He was also awarded medals by the Manchester Association of Engineers and the Franklin Institute of America. In addition he compiled four Reports in connexion with the work of the Cutting Tools Research Committee, which were published in the PROCEEDINGS between 1927 and 1933. He carried out original investigations on the periodic fluctuations of hardness of materials, resulting from rotating specimens in a strong magnetic field, and described them in a paper read before the Royal Society in 1931. His most recent published work related to a new continuous test which he had devised for recording automatically the hardness changes taking place in materials during ageing; this was presented in a paper before the British Association in Nottingham in 1937. He was a member of several scientific institutions, and the author of a large number of papers on the testing of tool steels and other materials.


1938 Obituary [3]

By the death, on February 9, 1938, of Edward Geisler Herbert, the Institute has lost a member of rare originality of mind, and engineering in general a man of great ability and charm. No one could know Herbert without admiring his patient search for truth, his freshness of outlook, and, at last, the man himself. That it has not always been possible for others to repeat the results which he himself obtained was probably due, more than to any other single factor, to his wonderful manipulative ability. In his modesty, the wideness of his interests, his personal experimental skill, his enthusiasm - in the best sense of that word - and his freedom from mental rigidity, he belonged to the very best type of scientific worker.

Born in 1869, he received his early education at the Nottingham High School, and then proceeded to University College, London, where he graduated in science in 1889. His business career commenced in Manchester in 1892 when he joined a small firm of electrical engineers, but it was in 1895, when he started as a maker of machine tools, that he found his real vocation.

His researches on the efficiencies of cutting tools, and the ingenious machines which he devised in collaboration with his partner, the late Mr. Charles Fletcher, for their measurement, brought him a wide reputation. To metallurgists, however, he will be remembered chiefly for his "pendulum" hardness test, his "cloudburst" process of superficial hardening, and his work on the magnetic properties of steel. Almost up to the end he was engaged on the development of a method for the continuous measurement of hardness at temperatures above the normal, and it is some satisfaction that there is reason to hope that his last piece of work will not be left uncompleted.

Herbert's outlook was essentially that of a man of science, but that his work should prove of value to the community was ever his constant hope.

Mr. Herbert was elected a member of the Institute on October 30, 1930. F. C. THOMPSON.


1938 Obituary [4]




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