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Author Copper forge in Normandy
D.Send

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Posted: 13/09/2017 20:43:29
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Hi Folks,
I am doing some research into a copper forge in Normandy that bought much copper from a 'Swansea' supplier.
Does anyone know of a specialist working on Swansea copper mineral importers, copper smelters and ingot exporters around 1800 to 1950? In particular information concerning the properties of different copper qualities in relation to mineral sources is sought.
(The copper forge was a converted iron bloomery). The iron was mined locally, but the copper had to be imported, there being little copper mineral easily accessible in France.
I have access to some archives here, which need to be linked to those from Swansea for the purposes of an exhibition. The copper industry has become quite important here since...
Incidentally, many thanks to all of you that contributed to the 'Henry de Ferrers' (Medieval Ironmaster Baron) topic.
D.Send.
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Graigfawr

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Posted: 14/09/2017 00:41:07
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There is a considerable published literature on the internationally important copper smelting industry of the Swansea region which embraces the coastal zone from Burry Port/Pembrey in the west to Port Talbot/Margam in the east.

The 'entry' publications, which provide extensive biographies, are:

R.O.Roberts "Non ferrous smelting" chapter in: A.H.John & G.Williams (eds.) "Glamorgan County History: Vol. 5: Industrial Glamorgan from 1700 to 1970", Cardiff, 1980.

S.Hughes "Copperopolis: landscapes of the early industrial period in Swansea", Aberystwyth, 2000.

R.O.Roberts's paper includes a definitive gazetteer of non-ferrous smelting works in Glamorgan which usefully lists owners and provides dates for each change of ownership.

The ores were imported from numerous sources (globally from 1830s) and blended, so few if any of the region's works produced copper metal from a single source of ore.

Primary copper smelting ceased in south Wales in the 1930s; small scale refining continued to around 1970.

The various papers by R.O.Roberts from the 1950s to the 1970s will be the most useful source for you, along with:

E.Newell "The British copper ore market in the nineteenth century with particular reference to Cornwall and Swansea", PhD thesis, Oxford, 1988.

Annual summaries of ore, regulus and part-smelted copper imports, and annual summaries of exports of smelted copper (mainly ingots, tiles and slabs, plus some cathodes in later periods) were published in the "Mineral Statistics" (available on the British Geological Survey website and on googlebooks) and in the "Trade and Navigation Accounts".

Local newspapers (many available on Welsh Newspapers Online) list arrivals and sailings of vessels at Swansea plus their cargoes and ports. These include sailings from Swansea to French ports with ingot copper but there are rarely surviving sources in Wales to tie specific cargoes to specific smelters as most of the day-to-day records of the industry have not survived. The surviving records of individual companies and works are mostly held by: National Library of Wales, Swansea University, and West Glamorgan Archives.

I've encountered ingots despached from Swansea to Treport but that is far north of Normandy. Where in Normandy was the customer located and what was the name of the owning firm? It is always interesting to learn of new markets.
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D.Send

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Posted: 14/09/2017 06:11:21
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Hi Graigfawr,
Thankyou for the very detailed reply.

The copper works was (and still is) located at AUBE parish, ORNE County, Lower Normandy, (postcode 61270). The Owners were the MOUCHEL family Dynasty.
They began by trip-hammering copper ingots to form copperplate. Initially they bought ore from Brazil and smelted it, but soon found savings by importing Ingots. They visited the Swansea works. After much scientific experimenting, they obtained very ductile alloys, winning prizes at various 'Universal Exhibitions' for quality.
We have photographed over 2000 pages of company archives, and have started sifting through them. My French colleaugue is classifying the whole lot progressively, and passing me questions to research and translation. Therefor we are homing in on detailed aspects, such as relations with Swansea smelters. Therefor, my initial posting was not detailed.
It will take us months to classify all the records and analyse them. Already there are many subjects of great interest we have encountered.
We were interested to read that Swansea blended its ore sources... whereas the Mouchels sought specific sources for their varying metallurgic compositions....
Kind Regards,
D.Send.
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D.Send

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Posted: 14/09/2017 12:55:39
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Hi again,
Charles Joseph Emile Lambert was educated at the Paris 'Polytechnic' and founded the Swansea Company Lambert & Co.
Jukes Olivier MOUCHEL visited the works, and was guided around, (not speaking Welsh), and wrote a detailed report with drawings of the operation of the plant.
Among the mass of information, I note that imported mineral was stored by categories, to be smelted either mixed or seperately. (Cornish ore being mixed to help treatment due to its iron content).
MOUCHEL experimented adding and removing traces of other metals to copper until he patented one which was sufficiently ductile for wire-drawing. We have yet to find out whether this was due to trace ore-properties or exhaustive testing. But he was able to begin mass production of supple telephone and coil-winding enamelled wires.
His copper forge continued buying ingots from Lambert & Co for decades, adding brass manufacture to its varied list of productions.
It will take months to read all the archives.

I once visited the vast Plymouth City Museum collection of minerals. The assayers must have had their work cut out, as the assemblages are vary varied, and at a time when assaying was an alchemical exercise, they must have experimented extensively before they could obtain useable metals...

The iron bloomery had used specific local ores which were suitable for eventual wire-drawing. This was a local speciality.

Regards,
D.Send.

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SimonRL

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 14/09/2017 14:12:01
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Posts moved from the 'Scope of AditNow' thread since this topic warrants it's own thread.

--

my orders are to sit here and watch the world go by
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D.Send

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 14/09/2017 22:03:18
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Hi again,
Delving into records, it appears that Mr Lambert also visited the copper forge and was given a full guided tour and description of its processes. A sign of cross-channel cooperation both on a commercial and scientific level.
But by this time the copper forge had moved to the adjacent RAI parish and built rolling-mills to produce copper and brass plate, bars, and wire.
The original Gross iron and copper forge (constructed under the reign of Louis XIV) was therefore put into mothballs until it was declared a national monument and became a protected industrial archaeological site, unique in Europe.
As a museum, we are doing research for producing temporary exhibitions on iron and copper mining and metallurgy, as the site is now open to the public. Hence the reason for this thread.
And it makes a change from investigating local chalk river caves...
Regards,
D.Send.

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 15/09/2017 04:09:13
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Hi,
The lamberts smelted copper as follows in three stages :
1 'Grilling' ore to reduce its arsenic content.
2 Fusion of the metals in a reverbatory furnace, lined with a silicious 'Neath' lining.
3 Further refining the metal to produce fairly pure copper.

Concerning (3) : The metals were heated by introducing wood to obtain high temperatures. In the Normandy copper forge, this was done using charcoal, but it was assumed that at Swansea they used powdered anthracite?

Mr Lambert had plans to replace the process using electolysis anyway, so the question was not answered during the visit.

Does anyone know where the wood was aquired from, since Mr Lambert stated that charcoal was not used, because local wood was not available in any great quantity....

Regards,
D.Send.
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Morlock

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 15/09/2017 06:40:01
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"2 Fusion of the metals in a reverbatory furnace, lined with a silicious 'Neath' lining."

Almost certainly silica firebrick from the Pontneddfechan mines.

http://www.fforestfawrgeopark.org.uk/understanding/archaeology-and-industrial-heritage/legacies-of-the-industrial-age/silica-mines/silica-mines-at-pontneddfechan/
IP: 86.178.31.116 Edited: 15/09/2017 06:41:36 by Morlock
Graigfawr

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Posted: 15/09/2017 20:49:47
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The best biographical treatment of Charles Lambert that I’ve seen is in the introduction to J.Mayo & S.Collier “Mining in Chile’s Norte Chico: journal of Charles Lambert, 1825-1830”, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 1998. This states he was born in Strasbourg in 1793 and that little is known of his life prior to his first visit to Chile in 1816-17. It mentions on p.14 that one his sons stated “that Lambert had been almost obsessively reluctant to discuss details of his life”. So if you and your research associates uncover detail on his life and career (especially for the largely blank period prior to 1825) , do please consider publishing it as historians of both Chilean mining and smelting, and historians of south Wales smelting would be interested in learning more about Lambert’s background. Mayo and Collier’s book focusses closely on Lambert’s Chilean activities and contains very little on his earlier and later life – all but 20 of its 230 pages is a transcription of his journal covering the period 1825-1830.

Lambert visited Chile in 1816-17 and in the early 1820s, returning there in 1825 as general manager of the London-based Chilean Mining Association, locating himself at La Serena and Copiapo. Friction with the Association resulted in his dismissal in 1826 and thereafter he successfully mined and smelted in Chile on his own account until he retired to the UK in 1851 as a result of disagreements with revolutionaries in Chile. In the UK he opened a smelting works at Port Tennant, Swansea in 1852. Two of his daughters and his son married members of the Bath family, prominent Swansea copper ore traders and ship owners. Despite living in a house above the Port Tennant Works offices for some years, he took little part in the public life of Swansea, a local newspaper obituary stating that “he seldom, if ever, mixed with local society”. At his death in 1876 at the Bath family mansion in Carmarthenshire, Lambert’s main residence was in London. His will was proven at almost £900,000; Charles Joseph, his only surviving son, inherited the Port Tennant Works and all other business interests including those in Chile.

Obituaries of Charles Lambert in Welsh newspapers mention virtually nothing about his background and early life, but some Welsh newspaper obituaries for his son in 1888 allege that Charles Lambert senior was employed “in one of the copper works” at Swansea before he went to Chile. However, this assertion may be incorrect – the same obituaries state that his son Charles Joseph was born in Swansea in 1826, whereas Charles Lambert’s journal states that his son was born in Chile on 5 June 1826 and baptised there on 21 May 1827 (May and Collier transcript, pp.114, 162-163). Clearly Lambert’s early life before he went to Chile needs to be researched and later statements checked for accuracy – hopefully your research group may be able to find some new information.

Lambert’s son, Charles Joseph, remained largely resident in Chile as a mine and smelting works owner and the family retained close connections with Chile for at least two further generations – although Anglo-Chilean, the emphasis was very much on the Anglo. Charles Joseph Lambert rarely visited Swansea and the Port Tennant Works was managed by members of the Bath family who partners in Charles Lambert & Co. The private partnership Charles Lambert & Co. operated the Port Tennant Works until closure around 1902.

In common with all Swansea smelters, ore trading records published in local newspapers and in the “Mining Statistics” record Charles Lambert & Co purchasing ores from a wide range of sources, besides presumably processing ore, regulus and rough copper despatched from their Chilean mines and smelter.

As I said, do please consider publishing any new information on Lambert in journals accessible to Swansea historians and Chilean mining historians as he is a prominent and fascinating figure who deserves further research.

This webpage contains useful details on Lambert's ancestry: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bathonia/LambertFamily.htm

Turning to your most recent query concerning the details of smelting techniques:

The classic 'Welsh method' involved a preliminary calcining (grillage in French) followed by up to five or six smelting stages with recirculation of slags, followed by a lengthy single stage refining. Most published descriptions describe this seven or so stage process - many authors adapted previously published accounts. One of the fullest and most detailed is F.Le Play "Description des procedes metallurgiques dans le Pays de Galles pour la fabrication du cuivre", Paris, 1848. A good (though shorter) English language account appeared in J.Percy "Metallurgy: the art of extracting metals from their ores and adapting them to various purposes of manufacture: [vol.1]: fuel, fire-clays, copper, zinc, brass etc.", London, 1861.Most of the early twentieth century major metallurgical textbooks contain accessible and scientifically informed summaries of the 'Welsh process'; the most scientifically detailed will be found in the various textbooks by Edward Dyer Peters.

Despite the repetition of accounts of a six or seven stage calcining, smelting and refining process in so many classic textbooks, the reality was that most smelters abbreviated the process to save fuel and labour whenever the types of ores being treated permitted it. The full and idealised 'Welsh process' was in fact mainly reserved for problematic ores after most smelters simplified their flow sheets around the mid nineteenth century.

Morlock is correct that a 'Neath lining' refers to Vale of Neath 'Dinas' silica bricks. Various fireclay brick and blocks - especially imported Staffordshire clays - were also used.

South Wales smelters did indeed use anthracite from the upper Swansea Valley and adjacent areas, blended with the metallurgical coals from Swansea and adjacent areas. Le Play, Percy and other authors describe this.

Where did you obtain the description of Lambert using a three stage process? A reference to any published version and to the archival original would be interesting to see.

Was Mouchel's description of Lambert's works published? A reference to any published version and to the archival original would be interesting to see.

It may be of interest that at a slightly later date one Louis Gustave Mouchel lived in Briton Ferry, near Swansea where he had coal and iron smelting interests and later, with François Hennebique introduced reinforced concrete to the UK.
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D.Send

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Posted: 16/09/2017 06:44:20
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Thankyou for your detailed reply, which will require quite some reflection.
The Mouchel dynasty had sold their industrial interests to aquire land and therefore rents, a great error as they soon discovered, for their income rapidly diminished.

When Napoleon reached Moscow, it was burnt down by a Russian General, whose daughter came to France and became a very famous french novelist : La Comtesse de Segur. She wrote a book based on the Mouchels called 'The Fortune des Gaspard', describing their rise to fortune, and although not strictly exact, it gives the general industrial context.

The Mouchel works was later aquired by Trefimétaux, and is now owned by KTM. Mouchel had artistic training and noted everything he saw and did with sketches and illustrations. When his Gross iron and copper Forge was assessed for preservation in the late '70s, some 2,000 sheets of ilustrated writings and accounts were photographed by the Orne County Archives, which have since been copied by our museum.
These were investigated and resumed by specialists at the time, as was Mouchel's vast technical library, which is still in the hands of the Mouchel Family, as is his intact fully equiped laboratory. I shall try to get a complete list of results (published mainly in the '80's).
The Forge was sold to the local council for one symbolic franc, and is run by an association of volunteers, mainly dedicated grammar school teachers, although having included specialists.

This year my french colleague and I have just begun the study of the 2,000 photographs of records. We hope to produce an exhibition of results for the 2019-2020 tourist season. We feel sure there is much to be learnt from them. At present, My colleague is sorting and cataloguing them, and sending me items to delve into wherever possible. The records are not easy to read, as they are in 19th Century french, handwritten in a difficult style, using local terminology which is not standard french either...

As for Mr Lambert, I am told he was educated at Paris Polytechnic and L'Ecole des Mines, both very highly prestigious
French engineering establishments. I will make further enquiries on this question of his early life immediately and will report back.

Fascinating!

Regards,
D.Send.


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D.Send

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Posted: 17/09/2017 13:32:25
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Hi Graigfawr,
We have typed in some lengthy relevant extracts of the Mouchel manuscripts concerning Lambert & Co, which I could paste in, but they are at present in French.... It is difficult to know which parts to translate.

We are preparing a list of the available reference sources concerning Mouchel & Co., but much remains unpublished.

Concerning the early life of Lambert, we know he was born on the german side of the Rhine and spoke german, but are waiting for a german colleague to look at possible german sources for us, about his early schooling. He was born shortly after major battles in the area.

He grew up near Saint-Marie-des-Mines, (which might have influenced his choice of career). There was also a great deal of mining in the adjacent Ruhr...

He was reported to have abandoned his higher education for lack of career prospects, due to post-revolutionary economic weakness, influenced by one of his student friends who emigrated to Italy.

Regards,
D.Send.






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D.Send

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 18/09/2017 08:39:16
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Hi Graigfawr,
If you can read french, I can send you some typed transcripts of Mouchel extracts, perhaps as a private message.
Regards,
D.Send.
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Graigfawr

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Copper forge in Normandy
Posted: 20/09/2017 23:32:31
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D.Send wrote:

Hi Graigfawr,
If you can read french, I can send you some typed transcripts of Mouchel extracts, perhaps as a private message.
Regards,
D.Send.


Many thanks - I have PM'd you via aditnow.
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