Aluminum In The Home Was More Popular
When Artisans Created Hand-Made Items
Aluminum, once thought more valuable than gold, was discovered in the middle of the 19th century.
Later, it was discovered to be available in great quantities as a compound with other elements, not as rare as first thought.
The best known source is bauxite, which is readily available in many parts of the world. Most metals are made directly from ore and then purified. Bauxite must be refined first to separate iron and other impurities.
Crushed, washed and dried bauxite is ground into powder, mixed with certain chemicals and strained through a filter. The strained liquid (sodium aluminate) is allowed to cool, forming aluminum hydroxide (aluminum oxide and water.) The crystals of aluminum hydroxide are heated to remove the water.
The result of all this is alumina or aluminum oxide (aluminum and oxygen compound.)
The final process is an electrolysis process invented in l886, in which alumina, dissolved in melted cryolite, is exposed to charges of electricity, which separates the aluminum and allows it to settle to the bottom of the tank.
The intense heat keeps the aluminum in a liquid state until it can be removed.
We are all familiar with the many uses for aluminum.
For the collector, hammered aluminum has a special appeal, not only because of the wide variety of products, but because they are easily identified and readily available at reasonable prices.
Familiar names for highly decorated aluminum ware include August Wendell, Arthur Armour, Buenilum, Canterbury Arts, Continental, Cromwell, Crown, Designed Aluminum, Everlast, Farber & Shlevin, Farberware, Federal Silver, Gailstyn, Hammercraft, Hand Forged, Rodney Kent, Keystone, Kraftware, National Silver, N. S. Co, Palmer-Smith, Stede and World Hand Forged.
Almost all pieces are identified with the logo of the maker.
The hand wrought aluminum industry flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s. A decline in the popularity of aluminum may have been the fact that the hand forging gave way to mechanical production and some of the enduring beauty of the artisan-produced pieces was lost.
Return to Index