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Commercial Platinum

Commercial Platinum


(p.163) Chapter 7 Commercial Platinum
Pure Intelligence
Melvyn C. Usselman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents details of W. H. Wollaston’s and S. Tennant’s platinum business, which made malleable platinum available for commercial use for the first time. The finished metal was sold by the instrument maker William Cary and the major industrial application was for the touch-holes of firearms, which consumed about two-thirds of all platinum sold. The other significant application was for boilers used for the concentration of sulfuric acid. The purest platinum was reserved for the most demanding applications, such as laboratory crucibles. Most of the platina ore purchased after 1805 was bought from the London assayer John Johnson, who obtained it from traders in Kingston, Jamaica. The chemicals business of the two entrepreneurs became quite profitable after 1809, and Wollaston negotiated a larger share of the profits as a reward for his total superintendence of the production process.

Keywords:   William Hyde Wollaston, commercial platinum, William Cary, firearm touch-holes, sulfuric acid boilers, platinum crucibles, chemical business, John Johnson, entrepreneurs

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