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Box 49 - Zinc Plate: Test-casting of metallic zinc

 Item — Box: 0054.49, Item: 01
Identifier: 0054.49

Scope and Contents

A Test-Casting of Metallic Zinc

Explanation: This casting of zinc metal has been passed down the faculty of the Department of Chemistry since Lehigh was launched as a University. The first Chemistry Chairman (Charles M. Wetherill, M.D.) was the cousin of Lieutenant Col. Samuel Wetherill. In today's jargon, Samuel would be called the Chief Technical Officer or the plant manager for the Zinc Works.

Organized in 1853 in South Bethlehem near what is the present New Street Bridge as the Philadelphia and Lehigh Zinc Company it was renamed after the Civil War as Lehigh Zinc and later as New Jersey Zinc. The offices, labs, and smelter were in Bethlehem, the mine was in Saucon Valley near Friedensville.

The plant initially made white zinc oxide directly from the ore and between 1853 and 1867 it made 4725 tons of the material. Technical difficulties and the Civil War delayed production of the zinc metal itself and it wasn't until April1865 that continuous successful castings of metallic zinc were done. Samuel Wetherill supervised the smelting.

The tradition in the Chemistry Department is that Charles- who was then an analytical chemist at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., was present at the casting of the zinc in April1865. He is also believed to have worked out the analytical methods for metal purity but Charles Wetherill's official appointment as a Lehigh Professor of Chemistry was not issued by President Henry Coppee until14 Apri11866. Charles probably didn't have a University connection at the time of the smelting although he certainly knew Lehigh was being formed and that may have been the reason for his visit to Bethlehem.

This artifact was passed from Wetherill to Chandler to Ullmann to Billinger to Ned Heindel.

N D Heindel September 13, 2007


  • Creation: Date Not Yet Determined


Language of Materials

From the Collection:


Language of Materials

From the Collection:



1 Linear Feet (12 x 12 inches; 14.5 lb. (6.6 kg))

Custodial History

This artifact was passed from Charles Wetherill to William Chandler to Harry Ullmann to Robert Billinger to Ned Heindel.

Prof. Heindel donated to Lehigh Archives September 13, 2007

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
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