Joseph Dixon

Booklet courtesy of Richard Blacher. Comments and pictures by Paul Jackson.

Joseph Dixon
One of the World Makers

By Elbert Hubbard, 1912

This booklet measures 8" x 6" and has 25 numbered pages. Joseph Dixon was a Scientist and socialist and owner of the Dixon Crucible Co. There is more information of Joseph Dixon located below:

Joseph Dixon

    Joseph Dixon was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, 18 January 1799 and died in Jersey City, New Jersey, 17 June 1869. He was entirely self-educated, and early on showed unusual mechanical ingenuity. He invented a machine for cutting files before he was twenty-one. Subsequently he became a printer and then acquired a proficient knowledge of wood engraving and lithography. He also studied medicine, and in that connection obtained an intimate acquaintance with chemistry, which he applied with great ability in his inventions.
    Dixon's knowledge of optics was unusual, and he had no superior in familiarity with photography. In 1839 he took up the experiments of Daguerre, and was one of the first persons to take portraits by camera. The application of reflectors, so that pictures should not appear reversed, is credited to him, and Samuel F. B. Morse, to whom he confided the method, who endeavored to have it patented in Europe.
    Dixon built the first locomotive with the double crank, using wooden wheels. That a steam engine could be run on wheels and perform the services of a carrier was considered absurd. Mr. Dixon originated the process of transferring on stone, now everywhere used by lithographers, and invented the process of photolithography, publishing it years before it was believed to be of any value. By this process of transferring banknotes were easily counterfeited, and it was to prevent the abuse of his process that he devised the method of printing the bills in colors. He patented this process, but never received any benefit from it, as all the banks used it without pay.
    The present method employed by the U. S. government for printing in colors, for which a large sum is paid to patentees, is the old process invented by Mr. Dixon, of which the patent had long since expired. He perfected the method of making collodion as used in photography, and his suggestions led to the adoption of a true system for grinding the lenses of camera tubes. It is claimed that he, originally discovered the antifriction metal, known generally under the name of "Babbitt metal."
    Dixon is the originator of the steel melting business in the United States. Mr. Dixon became most widen known in connection with the crucible works that bear his name, having invented the plumbago, or graphite, crucible. He established his factory in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1827, moving it to Jersey City in 1847. With improvements and additions, Dixon Crucible has grown into the largest factory of its kind in the world. The crude material comes largely from mines near Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y., and is also very extensively used by the Joseph Dixon crucible works in the manufacture of lead pencils, an industry that has been developed simultaneously with the production of crucibles. Mr. Dixon invented a great number of machines and processes. His success in all of in his mechanical undertakings helped him to become very wealthy.

    In 1827, Joseph Dixon began his business in Salem, Massachusetts. He discovered the merits of graphite as a stove polish and an additive in lubricants, foundry facings, brake linings, oil less bearings, and non-corrosive paint and manufactured lubricants, pencils, stove polish and graphite crucibles; refractory vessels used for melting metals and minerals.
    One of Joseph Dixon’s inventions was a heat-resistant graphite crucible widely used in the production of iron and steel during the Mexican-American War. This invention was so successful that Joseph Dixon built a crucible factory in New Jersey, in 1847.
During the 1860’s, people still wrote with quill pens and ink, even though Joseph Dixon introduced the first graphite pencil in 1829. It wasn’t until the Civil War that the demand for a dry, clean, portable writing instrument became popular and led to the mass production of pencils. Joseph Dixon was the first to develop pencil automation. In 1872, the company was making 86,000 pencils a day. By 1870, The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company was the world’s largest dealer and consumer of graphite and had garnered worldwide recognition for its superior product quality.
    By 1870, The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company was the world’s largest dealer and consumer of graphite and had garnered worldwide recognition for its superior product quality. The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company continued to prosper throughout the 20th Century by growing through a series of mergers and acquisitions.
    In 1982, the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company merged with the Bryn Mawr Corporation, a Pennsylvania transportation and real estate company with operations dating back to 1795, the beginning of President George Washington’s second term. Together, these companies formed the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, named after Joseph Dixon and its oldest brand-name pencil.

The above biographical information is courtesy of:
Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001

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