Chris Evans


Crucible steel is usually seen as a product of Sheffield. It is defined as a key element of Britain’s Industrial Revolution; in turn, it defines the Industrial Revolution as something essentially provincial and vernacular. This paper proposes a shift in perspective. It examines the alternative genealogy of crucible steel to be found in Henry Horne’s Essays concerning iron and Steel (1773). Horne presented crucible steel as something metropolitan and enlightened: it was a product of London and its scientific community. It is a suggestion that runs
counter to the accepted history of crucible steel as a process and a product, but there is something to be gained by taking Horne’s view seriously.


Bailey F A and Barker T C 1969, ‘The seventeenth-century origins of watchmaking in south-west Lancashire’, in J R Harris (ed), Liverpool and Merseyside: Essays in the economic and social history of the port and its hinterland (London), 1–15.
Barley S 2008, Hand tool manufacture during the Industrial Revolution: sawmaking in Sheffield c1750–c1830, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
Barraclough K C 1984, Steelmaking before Bessemer. Volume 2. Crucible steel: The growth of technology (London).
Bisset J 1800, A poetic survey round Birmingham; with a brief description of the different curiosities and manufactories of the place… Accompanied by a magnificent directory (Birmingham).
Blakey W 1783, Réflexions sur les progrès de la fabrique du fer et de l’acier dans la Grande Bretagne (Paris).
Boerhaave H 1727, A new method of chemistry (London).
Bronson B 1986, ‘The making and selling of wootz, a crucible steel of India’, Archaeomaterials 1 (1986), 13–51.
Chambers E 1728, Cyclopaedia; or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences (London).
Clifford H forthcoming, ‘English ingenuity, French imitation and Spanish desire: the intriguing case of cut steel jewellery from Woodstock, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, c1700–c 1800’, in L Pérez and C Verna (eds), L’acier en Europe avant Bessemer (Paris).
Craddock P T 2003, ‘Cast iron, fined iron, crucible steel: liquid iron in the ancient world’, in P Craddock and J Lang (eds), Mining and metal production through the ages (London), 231–57.
Craddock P T and Lang J 2004, ‘Crucible steel—bright steel’, Historical Metallurgy 38, 35–46.
Dolan B 2004, Josiah Wedgwood: entrepreneur to the Enlightenment (London).
Evans C 2003, ‘The Bessemer process’, in J Mokyr (ed), The Oxford encyclopedia of economic history (5 volumes, New York), I, 256–57.
Gaynor J M and Hagedorn N L 1993, Tools: working wood in eighteenth-century America (Williamsburg).
Gordon R B 1996, American iron, 1607–1900 (Baltimore).
Harris J 1708, Lexicon Technicum; or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences (London).
Hilaire-Pérez L and Thébaud-Sorger M 2006, ‘Les techniques dans l’espace public: publicité des inventions et littérature d’usage au XVIIIe siècle (France, Angleterre)’, Revue de synthèse 5e série, 393–428.
Horne H 1773, Essays concerning iron and steel (London).
Kingsbury B 1797, A treatise on razors; in which the weight, shape, and temper of a razor, the means of keeping it in order, and the manner of using it, are particularly considered (London).
Kwass M 2006, ‘Big hair: a wig history of consumption in eighteenth-century France’, The American Historical Review 111, 630–59.
Lindberg S G 1956, Resa i Europa: En astronom, industrispion och teaterhabitué genom Danmark, Tyskland, Holland, England, Frankrike och Italien 1758–1762 (Uppsala).
Low-Morrison A D 2007, Making scientific instruments in the Industrial Revolution (Aldershot).
Moxon J 1703, Mechanick exercises, or, The doctrine of handy works (London).
Naqvi N H 2004, ‘The first British illustrated surgical catalogue’, Vesalius 10, 38–41.
Powell A 2002, The flute (New Haven).
Quarrell W H and Mare M 1934, London in 1710 from the travels of Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (London).
Ray J 1674, A collection of English words not generally used… and an account of the preparing and refining such metals and minerals as are gotten in England (London).
Réaumur R A F 1771, An essay on the mystery of tempering steel, wherein the effects of the operation are fully considered. Extracted from the works of the celebrated Mons Reamur by J H Savigny (London).
Rees J and M 1997, Christopher Gabriel and the tool trade in eighteenth-century London (Ipswich).
Rinman S 1788–89, Bergswerks lexicon (2 vols, Stockholm).
Salmon W 1692, Medicina Practica: or, Practical Physician… to which is added the chymical works of Hermes Trismegistus, Kalid King of Persia, Geber King of Arabia, Atrefius Longævus the Jew, [and] Roger Bacon (London).
Savigny J c 1780, A treatise on the use and management of a razor (London).
Sheldrake T 1790, An essay on the various causes and effects of the distorted spine… in which that recommended by Mr Pott is considered, and the bad effects of Vacher’s (commonly called Jones’s) spinal machine are pointed out (London).
Smith C S and Forbes R J 1957, ‘Metallurgy and assaying’, in Singer C, Holmyard E J and Hall A R (eds), A history of technology. Volume 3: From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution, c 1500 to c 1750 (Oxford).
Stewart L 1992, The rise of public science: rhetoric, technology, and natural philosophy in Newtonian Britain, 1660–1750 (Cambridge).
Uglow J 2002, The Lunar Men: The friends who made the future 1730–1810 (London).
Virginia Journal 25 July 1751 (Williamsburg).
Waller J 1755, An appeal to the nobility and gentry, in regard to the gold and silver lace, brocades, embroidery, and gold and silver ribbon of this Kingdom (London).
How to Cite
Crucible steel as an enlightened material. (2021). Historical Metallurgy, 42(2), 79-88.