MESSRS. EDITORS—mdash;The article published in your valuable paper of the 3d inst., being so worded as to convey to those not acquainted with the subject, the idea that Mr. Jas. Ren-ton, of Newark, has just discovered a new prin ciple or process, to manufacture wrought-iron direct from the ore, without previously smelt ing the ore in a blast lurnace, to convert it first into pig, I have given below a recrpitu-lation of the principal facts, historically re corded, having a bearing on this matter, and showing what h sbeen done so far to bring this desirable process to perfection:—mdash; In 1729, experiments were made in Eng land, and have been noticed by the celebrated Swendenborg, in his treatise on the manufac ture of iron. Previous to 1790, trials were made by Wilkinson, at the great iron works of Creuzot, in Burgundy, belonging to Louis XVI. In 1794, Mushet took the matter in hand, and made many experiments throwing much light on the theory ol the process. About the same time the brothers Frerejean, of Lyons, made trials on a large scale at their iron works, in St. Etienne, France. In 1812, Hassenphrafz published his " Siderotechnie," in four quarto volumes, in the third of which, on page 104, he gives an interesting account of the state of the matter, at that time, and strongly recommends intelligent iron-masters to persevere, in their efforts of finding a prac tical process to attain a result, the success of which he considered fully warranted by a sound theory. (There is a copy of the " Side rotechnie " at the New York Library). More recently Kaarsten has also given his opinion ot the subject, in his work on iron. In 1833 Mr. Geissenhairner took out a patent in the United States for the same purpose. In De cember, 1837, Mr. Clay took out his patent in England; of this Mr. Green, of the i'oonton Iron "Works, New Jersey, took an assignment, and witk some modifications of his own, made many trials and a good deal of iron ; Mr. Bre-voort, the then .manager of those works, was also much engaged in these trials. October 11th, 1838, Mr. Chas. Sanderson, of Sheffield, England, took out patents in England and the United States, and made both wrought-iron and steel, and line cutlery, by this proce-s?. In December, 1842, C. S. Quilliard, of RoH-doaf,,took out two patents in the United States for the same object. In 1844, Mr. Broadmea-dow took out two patents from the United States. Since that time many others have ta ken out patents, in particular four gentlemen from Newark, viz., Messrs. Dickerson, Salter Ogden, and James Renton, each separately. No claim for principle or theory of the direct method, can now be established, that has been well understood for years; it is only for some very particular apparatus, furnace, or mode of proceeding, on which claims can now be made. If Mr. Renton has really discovered, lately, something new, so much the better, I enter tain no jealousy; 1 want the process to suc ceed, no matter by whom brought to perfec tion. But this much I may say, that Mr. Renton's first patent was for a furnace in which there was nothing to claim, but an ex ceedingly complicated contrivance, which dis closed very little practical experience in the iron business. C. S QTJILLJAIID. Rondout, Jan 23, 1853. [It appears from the above communication that what we stated concerning Mr. Renton's improvement has been misunderstood by our correspondent. It was never supposed by us, nor claimed by Mr. Renton, that a new disco very has been mede, all that he claims, in his patent, is simply the practical application ot the theory, and certain improvements in car rying it out.
This article was originally published with the title "Wrought-Iron Direct from the Ore" in Scientific American 8, 22, 171 (February 1853)