Jacob Perkins, American mechanical engineer and inventor, 1825.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph of a drawing on stone by Richard J Lane, after an original picture by Chester Harding. Jacob Perkins (1766-1849) was born in Newburyport, Masachusetts, United States, where at a young age he was apprenticed to a goldsmiths. At the age of 15 he managed his own busines and invented a method of plating shoe-buckles. In 1818 he moved to England and obtained a contract for supplying the Bank of Ireland with plates. It was around this time that he made his famous steel-plate invention. He substituted steel plates for the copper ones used in the engraving proces, thus enabling more complicated patterns to be used on bank notes and making counterfeiting more difficult. Perkins also made improvments to guns and steam engines and invented an early refrigerator. Published by J Miller, American Library, London, November 1825.