A short introduction to Percy's Metallurgy - Volume I-IV (1861-1880)

We reprinted the magnificent series of these textbooks in facsimile in the early 1990s. Volumes I, II and IV have long been sold out, a number of copies of Volume III still remains (in the paperback edition). We prepared this little booklet at the start of this reprint project. It gives a short appraisal of John Percy (1817-1889) and his importance in the scientific development of modern metallurgy. His influence in this field can not be over-emphasized. Both he and many of his students at the Royal School of Mines became icons of the British metalliferous industry of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Percy started teaching in 1851. In 1879 he resigned his post at the Royal School of Mines. As so often happens in the case of brilliant teachers, he became dissatisfied with developments in teaching. He explained his reasons for resigning in great detail and at great length in letters to the Mining Journal and The Times. The letter to the Mining Journal is reproduced in this booklet, a human document, a full six pages, shedding light on his beliefs and views and on his person.

eerste uitgave /
first published

type nieuw / new
medium boek / book
dim. A5
omvang / extent 12 pp - 1 illus
binding paperback
prijs / price
special offer
only € 5,00

Percy's monumental masterpiece, "Metallurgy, or the Art of Extracting Metals from their Ores, and Adapting them to various Purposes of Manufacture" has kept its importance for the study of (the history of) metallurgy. At the start of the reprint project, it was stated: "Percy's textbooks on metallurgy are well worth studying today, being thorough, in-depth surveys of the state of contemporary metallurgical knowledge and practical experience. In fact, Percy's were the first general textbooks on this subject in English. They were used all over Europe. At that time British metallurgy was far advanced in comparison with Continental methods".

The booklet further specifies the details of the four first-edition volumes as follows:

Volume I - Fuel, Fire-clays, Copper, Zinc, Brass

Part 1: Fuel, fire-clays

Introduction. Physical properties of metals. Ores (smelting processes and slags). Fuel (calorific power, classification, peat or turf, coal, charcoal, coke). Refractory materials (fire-clays, crucibles, firebricks)

Part 2: Copper, Zinc, Brass

Copper (properties, compounds, historical notices on copper smelting, copper ores, Welsh process of copper smelting and its chemistry, with additional notes, copper smelting in blast furnaces, kernel roasting, wet methods of extracting copper, Cornish methods of assaying). Zinc (properties, compounds, zinc ores, English process of extracting zinc, Silesian process, Belgian process, Carinthian process, methods of assaying). Brass (properties, preparation of brass).

1861 / 1990 Part 1: xxiv+240 pages;
Part 2: viii+394 pages

Volume II - Iron, Steel

Part 1: Properties of iron, Iron ores, Direct reduction processes

Properties. Physical. Crystalline and fibrous iron. Chemical properties. Alloys of iron. Ores of iron (descriptions, assaying). Direct processes (iron smelting in Eastern countries, Catalan and Corsican processes Stückofen and Osmund furnaces, Clay's, Renton's-, Chenot's-, Yates's processes)

Part 2: Indirect reduction processes

Cast iron. Blast furnaces in Britain (at Corngreaves, Dudley, Ebbw Vale, Clarence Ironworks). Blast furnaces in Sweden. Blast furnaces in the U.S.A. (anthracite). Blowing engines. Hot blast. Use of blast furnace gases. Analysis of pig irons, charges and yields. Best working practice (in Britain, in Prussia, in other parts of Germany)

Part 3: Wrought iron, Steel

Wrought iron (hearth processes in South Wales, Lancashire, Sweden, Wallonie, Franche Comté and many other locations). British puddling processes (ordinary or gas (regenerator) furnaces, working the ball (hammers, squeezers), reheating and rolling). Various forms of finished iron and their manufacture. Prices. Plans of works. Steel (production by cementation, partial decarburisation of pig iron, fusion of wrought and pig iron, casting and manipulation such as hardening, hammering, welding, damaskeening. Strength of iron and steel

Appendix. At the end of Volume II, Percy added an Appendix on The History of Iron

1864 / 1990 Part 1: xiv+348 pages;
Part 2: viii+230 pages
Part 3: viii+356 pages

Volume III - Lead, including extraction of Silver from Lead

Part 1: Properties of Lead, Lead Desilverization

Properties; Physical; Chemical; Compounds with various other substances; Alloys of lead; Types of ores; Assaying; Extraction of silver; Pattinson's and Parkes's processes; Decopperization of lead by zinc, refining or cupellation; Refining of Blicksilber

Part 2: Lead

Smelting; Air-reduction process (in the Flintshire furnace, in the Spanish furnace, in the Cornish flowing-furnace, at Bleiberg, in Peru, in the ore-hearth; in India); Roasting/deoxidizing process (at Sala, Freiberg, Pontgibaud, Vialas, La Pise, Commern, various locations in Germany); Iron-reduction process (at Tarnowitz, in the Upper Harz, the Rachette furnace, at Przibram); Oxidized ores and products (the slag hearth and various other types of furnaces). Other subjects; Condensation of lead fumes; Softening of hard lead; Reduction of litharge; Effect of foreign matters in the ore on the choice of smelting process; Compositions of lead; Commercial details; Red-lead; Poisoning by lead

1870 / 1990 Part 1: x+212 pages
Part 2: x+355 pages

Volume IV - Silver

Part 1: Properties of silver, Silver Ores, Assaying

Properties; Chemical properties of silver in combination with a wide variety of other elements; Alloys of silver with other metals. Ores; From native silver to sulphides; From selenides to halogenites. Assaying; Practical descriptions of the various methods of determining the amount of silver in ores and alloys

Part 2: Silver

Production; Separation of silver from metallic copper by liquation; Smelting of ores containing silver in the metallic state; Combined silver and lead smelting; Extraction of silver from its ores by amalgamation with mercury

1880 / 1990 Part 1: x+303 pages;
Part 2: viii+396 pages