Andrea Grimason has been researching the life and work of her ancestor William Murdock (1754 – 1839).
Below is a passage she found in the 1890 book "Men of Invention and Industry" by Samuel Smiles.
Murdock's ingenuity was constantly at work, even upon matters which lay entirely outside his special vocation. The late Sir William Fairbairn informed us that he contrived a variety of curious machines for consolidating Peat Moss, finely ground and pulverized, under immense pressure, and which, when consolidated, could be moulded into beautiful medals, armlets, and necklaces. The material took the most brilliant polish and had the appearance of the finest jet.
When I read this I wondered if the material Murdock invented was related to what we now call Bois Durci, or something similar to it (Murdock died before Bois Durci was invented in 1855). Bois Durci is "a process of taking sawdust, albumen or animal blood and hardening in a mould to form the desired object.... Various medals and medallions were made this way after being introduced at the 1862 London Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations." (see the earlier E-Sylum articles on Bois Durci).
Is anyone aware of surviving medals made by Murdoch's peat moss process? Murdock was a contemporary of Boulton and Watt in London. Below is a photo from Wikipedia of a bronze statue of the three in in Birmingham, England.
To read the complete passage, see:
Men of invention and industry, Google Books
To read earlier E-Sylum articles on Bois Durci, see:
BOOK REVEW: BOIS DURCI, A NATURAL PLASTIC 1855-1927, BY GASTON VERMOSEN
MORE ON BOIS DURCI
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