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William Frishmuth

William Frishmuth (1830-c. August 1, 1893) was a German-born American architect and metallurgist.

William Frishmuth was born in Coburg, Germany in 1830. Aluminum is a metal not found in a pure state in nature. The first patent for refining aluminum by electrolysis was granted to Friedrich Wöhler of Germany. Frishmuth studied with Wohler in Germany before coming to America.

In 1855 he settled in Philadelphia and became a citizen or the United States of America. He established the Frishmuth Foundry in Philadelphia, an aluminum foundry; believed to be the only aluminum foundry in the United States at the time.

In 1861 Frishmuth became a special secret agent to the War Department at the request of Abraham Lincoln. On the 5th of November, 1861, he received authority from President Lincoln, which was confirmed by Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania to raise a cavalry regiment. In 1862 the regiment was raised for active service, and was commissioned a Colonel. He was Colonel of the 113th Regiment, Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Curtin Hussars) until April 20, 1862.

In 1876 he produced the first authenticated aluminum castings made in America at his Philadelphia foundry (now an historic landmark)[1] He used a chemical process, unlike the electrolytic processes used today. One of the first casting he produced was an engineer's transit. The foundry was declared an ASM (American Society for Materials) Historical Landmark in 1985.

Because Frishmuth had previously done plating work for the Washington Monument the Army Corp of Engineers asked Frishmuth to construct a small metal form for the top of the monument. The small pyramid was to be functional and artistic. The function was to act as the terminus of a lightning rod to prevent storm damage to the monument. Frishmuth suggested that aluminum would be a good choice, as it would be a white metal that would blend well with the granite color of the monument, would not produce a stain through corrosion, and would polish well and be engraved with inscriptions.

In 1884 he cast the aluminum cap of the Washington Monument. This was the first architectural application of aluminum. At that time aluminum was $1.00 per avoirdupois ounce. For perspective, silver was $1.30 per troy ounce ($1.18 per avoirdupois ounce); 100 ounces (about 2.8 kg) of aluminum were needed to produce the pyramid.

Through his lifetime, Frishmuth received 12 patents, mostly on electroplating and production of aluminum.

On August 1, 1893 he was found dead in his home in Philadelphia from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Annually, the (AFS) American Foundry Society presents the "Frishmuth Award" honoring the "Foundryman of the Year".

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "William_Frishmuth". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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