Jacob Perkins (1766 - 1849) MP

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Birthplace: Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts
Death: Died in London, England
Managed by: Steven Kelley
Last Updated:
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About Jacob Perkins

Jacob Perkins (9 July 1766 – 30 July 1849) was an Anglo-American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Perkins was apprenticed to a goldsmith. He soon made himself known with a variety of useful mechanical inventions[1] and eventually had twenty-one American and nineteen English patents.[citation needed]

In 1819 he went to England with a plan for engraving banknotes on steel, which ultimately proved a signal success, and was carried out by Perkins in partnership with the English engraver Heath.[1] His firm, later trading as Perkins, Bacon provided banknotes for many country banks, and foreign countries with postage stamps.[2] Stamp production started for the British government in 1840 with the 1d black and the 2d blue postage stamps[3].

He made an experimental high pressure steam engine working at pressures up to 2000 psi, but these were not practical for the manufacturing technology of the time, though his concepts were revived a century later. In 1827 he became the first person in England to use a Uniflow steam engine. A locomotive on the South Eastern Railway was converted to the Uniflow system in 1849.[citation needed]

His chief contribution to physics lay in the experiments by which he proved the compressibility of water and measured it by a piezometer of his own invention.[1] He became involved in lawsuits and had to close his engine manufactory, 1829-30, going into partnership with his second son (see below), manufacturing and installing central heating systems using his hermetic tube principle. He also investigated refrigeration machinery after discovering from his research in heating that liquified ammonia caused a cooling effect.[citation needed]

Perkins also applied the Hermetic tube system to steam locomotive boilers and a number of locomotives using this principle were made in 1836 for the London and South Western Railway. The Hermetic tube seems to have been a very early ancestor of the ultra-high pressure circuit used in LMS 6399 Fury.[citation needed]

In 1832 Perkins established the National Gallery of Practical Science on Adelaide Street, West Strand, London. This was devoted to showing modern inventions. A popular feature was his steam gun, which did not find favour with the military.[4]

He retired in 1843 and died in London in 1849.[1]

His second son, Angier March Perkins (1799–1881), also born at Newburyport, went to England in 1827, and was in partnership with his father (later taking over the business on the latter's death). His grandson, Loftus Perkins (1834–1891), most of whose life was spent in England, experimented with the application to steam engines of steam at very high pressures, constructing in 1880 a yacht, the Anthracite.[1] -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Perkins

Jacob Perkins (9 July 1766 – 30 July 1849) was an American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist. Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Perkins was apprenticed to a goldsmith. He soon made himself known with a variety of useful mechanical inventions and eventually had twenty-one American and nineteen English patents.


Early life


Jacob went to school in Newburyport till he was 12 and then was apprenticed to a goldsmith in Newburyport named Davis. Mr. Davis died three years later and Jacob (only fifteen) continued the business of making gold beads and added the manufacture of shoe buckles. When he was twenty-one he was employed by the master of the Massachusetts mint to make a die for striking copper coins, this was the cent bearing an eagle and an Indian.


Jacob married on Nov. 11, 1790 to Hannah Greenleaf of Newbury and they had nine children.


Innovations


In 1790 at the age of 24 in Byfield, he created machines for cutting and heading nails. In 1795 he was granted a patent for his improved nail machines and started a nail manufacturing business on the Powwow River in Amesbury, Massachusetts.


He created some of the best steel plates (as noted from English Engravers) for engraving, and started a printing business with engraver Gideon Fairman. They started with school books (The Running Hand, eight pages long), and also made currency that was not being forged. In 1809 he bought the stereotype technology (prevention of counterfeit bills) from Asa Spencer, and registered the patent, and then employed Asa Spencer.


During the War of 1812 he worked on machinery for boring out cannons. He also started working on water compression and invented a bathometer or piezometer to measure the depth of the sea by its pressure.


In 1816 he moved to Philadelphia and worked on steam power with Oliver Evans, and concurrently set up a printing shop and bid on the printing of currency for the Second National Bank in Philadelphia. With his printing business partner, Gideon Fairman, they employed Asa and went to England at Charles Heath's urging in an attempt to win the £20,000 reward for "unforgable notes". They set up shop in England, and spent months on example currency, still on display today. Unfortunately for them, Sir Joseph Banks thought that "unforgable" also implied that the inventor should be English by birth. Sir Joseph Banks successors awarded future contracts to the English printing company started with Charles Heath. They made some books and later currency and stamps. Their stamps were the first known preglued stamps. Also concurrently, Jacob's brother ran the American printing business, and they made money on important fire safety patents. Charles Heath and Jacob Perkins worked together and independently on some concurrent projects. Jacob Perkins bought some technology, and patented it himself in multiple countries, and employed the true inventors (as was the case with Asa Spencer and Oliver Evans).


He also has patents for Heating and Air Conditioning technology.


Financial Problems Detailed


Jacob Perkins and Charles Heath had many business successes, but also had financial difficulties, but usually not at the same time. The accounting records for their printing business shows the two borrowed from the business, and sold shares back and forth when necessary in any and all business ventures, and kept detailed records. This professional relationship ended when Jacob's son-in-law, Joshua Butters Bacon, bought out Charles Heath's share of their shared printing business, which then became Perkins Bacon.


Engraving


Perkins made several important new innovations in printing technology, including new steel engraving plates. Using these plates he made the first known steel engraved USA books (The Running Hand, school books, 8 pages each). He then made currency for a Boston Bank, and later for the National Bank.


His quality American bank currency attracted attention of the Royal Society who were busy addressing the problem of massively forged English notes. In 1819 he went to England with a plan for engraving banknotes on steel. Example notes were shown to the Royal Society president Sir Joseph Banks. Printing English notes ultimately proved a success and was carried out by Perkins in partnership with the English engraver-publisher Charles Heath and his associate Gideon Fairman. Together they formed the partnership Perkins, Fairman and Heath. Heath and Perkins also had support from their brothers. Perkins, Fairman and Heath was later renamed, when his son-in-law, Joshua Butters Bacon, bought out Charles Heath and the company was then known as Perkins, Bacon. Perkins Bacon provided banknotes for many banks, and foreign countries with postage stamps. Stamp production started for the British government in 1840 with the 1d black and the 2d blue postage stamps, which incorporated an anti-forgery measure in the form of a complicated background produced by means of the rose engine, an invention of Perkins.


High pressure steam


He made an experimental high pressure steam engine working at pressures up to 2000 psi, but these were not practical for the manufacturing technology of the time, though his concepts were revived a century later. In 1827 he became the first person in England to use a Uniflow steam engine. A locomotive on the South Eastern Railway was converted to the Uniflow system in 1849, although it is not known whose idea this was.


Perkins applied his Hermetic tube system (see below) to steam locomotive boilers and a number of locomotives using this principle were made in 1836 for the London and South Western Railway. This was a very early example of a high pressure steam locomotive.


Hermetic tube


His chief contribution to physics lay in the experiments by which he proved the compressibility of water and measured it by a piezometer of his own invention. He became involved in lawsuits and had to close his engine manufactory, 1829–30, going into partnership with his second son (see below), manufacturing and installing central heating systems using his hermetic tube principle. He also investigated refrigeration machinery after discovering from his research in heating that liquified ammonia caused a cooling effect.


National Gallery of Practical Science


In 1832 Perkins established the National Gallery of Practical Science on Adelaide Street, West Strand, London. This was devoted to showing modern inventions. A popular feature was his steam gun, which did not find favour with the military.


Refrigeration


Perkins is credited with the first patent for the vapor-compression refrigeration cycle, assigned on August 14, 1834 and titled, "Apparatus and means for producing ice, and in cooling fluids." The idea had come from another American inventor, Oliver Evans, who conceived of the idea in 1805 but never built a refrigerator. The Perkins patent, X6662, was granted just prior to a fire at the USPTO, so the text of the patent may not be extant. The same patent was granted in both Scotland and England separately.


Death


He retired in 1843 and died in London on 30 July 1849, at 84 years of age. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.


Family


His second son, Angier March Perkins (1799–1881), also born at Newburyport, went to England in 1827, and was in partnership with his father (later taking over the business on the latter's death). His grandson, Loftus Perkins (1834–1891), most of whose life was spent in England, experimented with the application to steam engines of steam at very high pressures, constructing in 1880 a yacht, the Anthracite.

Sources

  1. Victorian Engineers: Perkins Family - A short history about FOUR GENERATIONS OF ENGINEERS
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Jacob Perkins's Timeline

1766
July 9, 1766
Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts
1790
November 11, 1790
Age 24
1793
December 16, 1793
Age 27
1796
1796
Age 29
1797
1797
Age 30
1799
August 21, 1799
Age 33
Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
1801
September 11, 1801
Age 35
1804
May 7, 1804
Age 37
Newbury, Essex, MA, USA
1806
July 1, 1806
Age 39
1809
June 29, 1809
Age 42