Perkins, Jacob

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b. 9 July 1766 Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA
d. 30 July 1849 London, England
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American inventor of a nail-making machine and a method of printing banknotes, investigator of the use of steam at very high pressures.
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Perkins's occupation was that of a gold-and silversmith; while he does not seem to have followed this after 1800, however, it gave him the skills in working metals which he would continue to employ in his inventions. He had been working in America for four years before he patented his nail-making machine in 1796. At the time there was a great shortage of nails because only hand-forged ones were available. By 1800, other people had followed his example and produced automatic nail-making machines, but in 1811 Perkins' improved machines were introduced to England by J.C. Dyer. Eventually Perkins had twenty-one American patents for a range of inventions in his name.
In 1799 Perkins invented a system of engraving steel plates for printing banknotes, which became the foundation of modern siderographic work. It discouraged forging and was adopted by many banking houses, including the Federal Government when the Second United States Bank was inaugurated in 1816. This led Perkins to move to Philadelphia. In the intervening years, Perkins had improved his nail-making machine, invented a machine for graining morocco leather in 1809, a fire-engine in 1812, a letter-lock for bank vaults and improved methods of rolling out spoons in 1813, and improved armament and equipment for naval ships from 1812 to 1815.
It was in Philadelphia that Perkins became interested in the steam engine, when he met Oliver Evans, who had pioneered the use of high-pressure steam. He became a member of the American Philosophical Society and conducted experiments on the compressibility of water before a committee of that society. Perkins claimed to have liquified air during his experiments in 1822 and, if so, was the real discoverer of the liquification of gases. In 1819 he came to England to demonstrate his forgery-proof system of printing banknotes, but the Bank of England was the only one which did not adopt his system.
While in London, Perkins began to experiment with the highest steam pressures used up to that time and in 1822 took out his first of nineteen British patents. This was followed by another in 1823 for a 10 hp (7.5 kW) engine with only 2 in. (51 mm) bore, 12 in. (305 mm) stroke but a pressure of 500 psi (35 kg/cm2), for which he claimed exceptional economy. After 1826, Perkins abandoned his drum boiler for iron tubes and steam pressures of 1,500 psi (105 kg/cm2), but the materials would not withstand such pressures or temperatures for long. It was in that same year that he patented a form of uniflow cylinder that was later taken up by L.J. Todd. One of his engines ran for five days, continuously pumping water at St Katherine's docks, but Perkins could not raise more finance to continue his experiments.
In 1823 one his high-pressure hot-water systems was installed to heat the Duke of Wellington's house at Stratfield Saye and it acquired a considerable vogue, being used by Sir John Soane, among others. In 1834 Perkins patented a compression ice-making apparatus, but it did not succeed commercially because ice was imported more cheaply from Norway as ballast for sailing ships. Perkins was often dubbed "the American inventor" because his inquisitive personality allied to his inventive ingenuity enabled him to solve so many mechanical challenges.
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Further Reading
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1943, biography which appeared previously as a shortened version in the Transactions of the Newcomen Society 24.
D.Bathe and G.Bathe, 1943–5, "The contribution of Jacob Perkins to science and engineering", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 24.
D.S.L.Cardwell, 1971, From Watt to Clausius. The Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age, London: Heinemann (includes comments on the importance of Perkins's steam engine).
A.F.Dufton, 1940–1, "Early application of engineering to warming of buildings", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 21 (includes a note on Perkins's application of a high-pressure hot-water heating system).
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Perkins, Jacob — born July 9, 1766, Newburyport, Mass., U.S. died July 30, 1849, London, Eng. U.S. inventor. He built a machine to cut and head nails in one operation с 1790. He developed a method of engraving paper money that made counterfeiting difficult; lack… …   Universalium

  • Perkins, Jacob — (9 jul. 1766, Newburyport, Mass., EE.UU.–30 jul. 1849, Londres, Inglaterra). Inventor estadounidense. Construyó una máquina 1790 para cortar clavos y formarles la cabeza en una sola operación. Desarrolló un método para marcar el papel moneda y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jacob Perkins — (9 July 1766 ndash; 30 July 1849) was an Anglo American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist.LifeBorn in Waterloo, Iowa, Perkins was apprenticed to a goldsmith. He soon made himself known with a variety of useful mechanical inventions… …   Wikipedia

  • Jacob perkins — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Perkins. Jacob Perkins (9 juillet 1766 30 juillet 1849) est un inventeur, ingénieur mécanicien et physicien américain, né à Newburyport, Massachusetts Il commença comme apprenti chez un orfèvre et se fit bientôt… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jacob — o Ya akov, en hebreo יַעֲקֹב sostenido por el talón o en árabe يعقوب Yaʿqūb, conocido despues como Israel hebreo יִשְׂרָאֵל Principe de Dios , árabe اسرائيل Isrāʾīl) es uno de los patriarcas de la Biblia. Su historia es contada en el libro de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jacob Perkins — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Perkins. Jacob Perkins Jacob Perkins (9 juillet 1766 30 jui …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jacob — /jay keuhb/ for 1, 3; Fr. /zhann kawb / for 2, n. 1. the second son of Isaac, the twin brother of Esau, and father of the 12 patriarchs. Gen. 25:24 34. 2. François /frddahonn swann /, born 1920, French geneticist: Nobel prize for medicine 1965. 3 …   Universalium

  • Perkins — /perr kinz/, n. 1. Frances, 1882 1965, U.S. sociologist: Secretary of Labor 1933 45. 2. Maxwell (Evarts), 1884 1947, U.S. editor. * * * (as used in expressions) Gilman Charlotte Anna Perkins Stetson Perkins Anthony Perkins Frances Fannie Coralie… …   Universalium

  • Perkins — (as used in expressions) Gilman, Charlotte (Anna) Perkins (Stetson) Perkins, Anthony Perkins, Frances Fannie Coralie Perkins Perkins, Jacob Perkins, Maxwell (Evarts) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jacob Perkins — Jacob Perkins …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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