This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Aluminum (Al-U'-Mi-Num). - An extremely light metal made from Iceland spar. Aside from its lightness and strength, it is malleable, does not rust, is as beautiful as silver, and is much more abundant in its native state than any metal in use. While Iceland spar is the mineral from which it has been mostly obtained, it is a constituent of clay and other earth, and prevails almost anywhere. The statement has been made that it composes more than a twentieth part of the crust of the globe. The difficulty is to secure it in a pure state at a moderate cost. But within the last half century its cost has been reduced from over $.30 a pound to less than $1. In a series of tests made by the United States naval officers atWatertown, Mass., a tensile strength of 90,000 pounds to the square inch was shown, which is largely in excess of anything before developed. The transverse strength of the metal was found to be 6,600 pounds to the square inch, a result that has only been equaled by the finest quality of crucible steel. Busy brains and hands are constantly at work to reduce the expense of manufacturing the pure metal, and as the incentive to success is very powerful, their labors are not likely to be discontinued. If they prove satisfactory, as there is reason to hope they will, a wonderful change in the line of notions and fancy goods will have been entered upon. Aluminum is lighter than wood and takes a polish like burnished silver. It not only does not rust, either in air or water, but retains its polish for an indefinite period. Transform in imagination the counters and shelving of stores, or even the fronts of the buildings themselves, the railings, balconies and floors to shining silver, and a glimpse may be had of the coming effect of aluminum by the qualities now claimed for it. The like has not been pictured since St. John spoke of the golden streets and pearly gates of the New Jerusalem.