White lead in Philadelphia.

Scientific American 20, 12.11.1859

We copy the following instructive informalon from our ememporary, the United States Gazette. - Among the numerous manufactures in which Philadelphia has attained conceded pre-eminence, is that of chemicals and white lead, in which so important a part is performed by the firm of Wetherill & Brother, Secondstreet, near Arch. The history of this firm is replete with interest, shows that when a man brushes back his hair and buckles down to business, there is no assigning any limit to his achievements. The business now carried on by Messrs. Wetherill & Brother has been carried on from generation to generation, through a long succession. It was founded by Samuel Wetherill & Son, who for many years were extensive importers of paints and chemicals, but who became open to the conviction that a vast deal of unnecessary importation was then done. They set at work, therefore, in the belief that American skill was as potent as foreign skill, and that most of the articles which they then imported could he made at home. The firm was compared of patriots. The senior aided his country in the war of independence, for which resistance he was discarded by the Society of Friends. The Free Quakers, however, received him with open arms, and, as their preacher, he often officiated at the meeting-house which still stands at the corner of Fifth-street and Arch.

When Water-street in accordance with the will of Stephen Girard, was widened, and the old store was taken down, the firm removed to No. 33 North Front-street. The warehouses and mill of the old house were in Combs alley, in the rear of Secondstreet; and the very first stationary steam-engine ever used in the United States was employed by them in grinding paints. The present firm ultimately obtained the lots Nos. 47 and 49 North Second-street, upon which stood two old stores, and upon this they reared the present splendid business edifice which they now occupy.

Their works are at West Philadelphia, where they have built a huge structure that looks like a cross between the Eastern Penitentiary and the monastery of St. Bernard on the slope of the Alps. Here they produce white lead of a character whose excellence is recognized is every quarter of the Union. The present works in West Philadelphia were built on an enlarged and improved plan by the late John Prier Wetherill and Dr-Wm. Wetherill. The works produce from pig lead about 1,600 tuns annually, and also yield large quantities or litharge and red lead. Besides this, they produce nitric and muriatie acid, ether, both nitrous and sulphuric, the various preparations of mercury, alcohol and burningfluids, together with many other chemical preparations, beside refining camphor and niter.

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