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Rchard Williams

Ray, you imply that Reeder made it clear that bundles of heated iron rods were passed through grooved rolls to produce bar iron.  Have you a source other than Jenny Bulstrode for this?  In the paper it seems to me that she herself was the one who claimed that and rather speculatively I think.

I did my researches on sugar cane rolls in old encyclopaedias rather than in modern sources and they all showed relatively shallow grooves running longitudinally.  I did find a patent which claimed for circumferential grooves as well, but these were to provide a path for the juice to course down.  It is a pity that Cort used the term grooved, when the description ‘profiled’ would have been much more apt.

It is very disturbing that people should immediately accept this paper as gospel and change entries in publicly available sources.  I really don’t personally believe that such Jamaican work could have been prior art to any of Cort’s inventions (and of course it is not directly related to his puddling patents anyway).  I accept that the slaves(?) might well have been excellent smiths and very useful to Reeder’s venture, irrespective of any  experience of West African metallurgy, but I think the idea that they came up with using profiled rolls to process scrap iron  and that this transferred to Henry Cort incredibly speculative.

I have tried to attach four files containing 19th century depictions of sugar cane rolls, but the system will not let me upload all of them.  Perhaps in total they are too big.  In which case I will send them through one by one.


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