James Bogardus, an American inventor, born at Catskill, N. Y.. March 14, 1800. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a watchmaker, and soon became not only an expert in that art, but a good die-sinker and engraver He invented an eight-day. three-wheeled chronometer clock, for which he received the highest premium at the first fair of the American institute; and another with three wheels and a segment of a wheel, which struck the hours, and, without dial wheels, marked the hours, minutes, and seconds. In 1828 he invented a "ring-flyer" for spinning cotton, now in general use, and known as the "ring-spinner." In 1829 he invented the eccentric mill, differing from all other mills in having both the grinding surfaces running in the same direction, with nearly equal speed. In 1831 he invented an engraving machine, with which he made gold watch dials, turning imitation filigree work, rays from the centre, and the figures in relief, all by one operation. With this same machine he made the steel die for the first gold medal of the American institute, and also many beautiful medallions. He invented the transfer machine for producing bank-note plates from separate dies, which is now in general use.
In 1832 he patented the first dry gas meter, for which he was awarded a gold medal by the American institute; and in 1833 the first pencil case without a slot. In 1836 he greatly improved his meter by giving a rotary motion to the machinery, and made it applicable to all current fluids. It is the parent of all diaphragm meters, this word having been first so used by Mr. Bogardus. At this time he went to England, where he made the celebrated medallion-engraving machine, which, among oilier portraits, engraved that of the queen, dedicated to her at her request. He made a machine for engine-turning, which not only copied all known kinds of machine engraving, but engraved what it could not itself reproduce. In 1839 a reward was offered for the best plan of carrying out the penny-postage system by the use of stamps, and from 2,600 competitors his plan was selected, and is still in use. After visiting France and Italy, he returned to New York in 1840. He then invented a machine for pressing glass, now in common use; also, a machine for shirring india-rubber fabrics, and another for cutting india-rubber into fine threads. He invented the "sun-and-planet horse power," and a dynamometer for measuring the speed and power of machinery in motion.
In 1847 he put in execution his long-cherished idea of iron buildings, by constructing his factory, of five stories, 25 ft. by 90, entirely of cast iron. This was undoubtedly the first complete cast-iron building in the world, and was the first to be represented in the "Illustrated London News." Mr. Bogardus was the first to suggest the construction of wrought-iron beams; and it was from a pattern designed by him that the first were made, both in this country and in England. He claims also to have introduced a new style of architecture, column over column, which he calls the Roman, from the fact that he had never seen it elsewhere than in Italy. After erecting many buildings in New York, in other states, and in the West India islands, he was compelled by ill health to relinquish this business. Some of his inventions are of scientific interest. His pyrometer, used to ascertain the expansion of metals and stones, is remarkable for delicacy and accuracy; and he claims for his deep-sea sounding machine that it will measure a depth of 10 or 15 miles, if necessary, with absolute accuracy, whatever currents it may encounter; in its use he was the first in 100 years to revive the plan of sounding without a line.
His improvements of tools have also been numerous.