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GB Patent: GB-158,800,001
Slitting engine to cut ribbons of iron into rods
Patentee:
Bevis Bulmer - Chewton, Somerset, England

USPTO Classifications:

Tool Categories:
metalworking machines : nail making machines

Assignees:
None

Manufacturer:
Not known to have been produced

Witnesses:
Unknown

Patent Dates:
Granted: Dec. 04, 1588

Patent Pictures:
1730 image of a slitting mill similar to Bulmer's design
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Early Steps in Nail Industrialisation
Description:
This patent was extended in 1606 and at the same time Bulmer was granted a knighthood.

"...to the benefytt of the Commonwealth devised a newe apte or compendious forme or kynde of engyn or instrument to be put in use driven and wrought by water or waterworke as well for and concerning a quicker and more apt and speedy waye and meanes then heretofore within the time of man's memory hath bene knowen experimented and used within our realms and dominions for in and about the cuttying and making of yron into small barres or roddes to serve for the making of nayles and other thynges for the necessary use and service of us and our subjects as also for the better saving and better remedying then heretofore hath bene used in our said realms and dominions of the wast that commonly growth and happeneth of the yron which is usually cutt into the small roddes by reason of the often heating and inapt instrument devised now used and practiced for the cutting thereof."

The "inapt instrument" referred to in the above quotation was likely the machine created by Peter Anythony van Ghemen for which, on 1587-08-26, he had received a 21-year license from the British Crown. Van Ghemen's machine and its license were being used "to cut bars and plates or iron or brass...and also to draw iron and copper thread" at the wire mill located at the Welsh village of Tintern. (During that 21-year license period, Bulmer worked at Tintern and was familiar with Van Ghemen's machine and its inadequacies.) Van Ghemen's machine has not survived but it is believed to have used sharpened discs to slit, or at least groove, hot steel. In any event, Van Ghemen's machine was considered to have been a failure and Bulmer's version was more successfully, especially after improvements were made in the years after this patent was granted. There is some suggestion that Bulmer's improvements were put into place years before this patent was issued but it was kept quiet due to the Van Ghemen license still being in force. Another rumor concerns Godfrey Box, who was, for a time, Bulmer's engineer at the works; Bulmer was more of an entrepreneur and businessman and thus perhaps Box is at least partially responsible for the design of Bulmer's slitting engine. These rumors seem to be based on latter-day guesswork and it seems unlikely that evidence will surface to resolve either question.

Much of the information here is taken from an article by Chris How, "Early Steps in Nail Industrialisation" in the book "Studies in Construction History" (see link).

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