Back to the time when aluminium was more expensive than gold...

Before 1890, aluminum was considered as a rare and noble metal. It was almost as expensive as gold. It was used to manufacture jewels, artistic objects , table decorations, medals... Napoleon III owned a table service the cutlery of which was made out of carved aluminium ; it was only used on exceptional occasions.

WashMonCapPixThe Washington monument, an obelisk with a height of 169 m located in Washington DC, USA, was erected during the 19th century in the memory of president Georges Washington . The architects wanted, on top of it, a man-made object with the highest possible value. They opted for a small pyramid in cast aluminium (see engraving on the left).

For your information, the current price of gold is well over € 35.000 / kg while aluminium only costs 1,5 € / kg.Eros-piccadilly-circus-aluminium

Aluminium is the third more abundant element of the earth's crust, after oxygen and silicium. It cannot be found in its pure form in the nature, but well in an oxydized form Al2O3 (alumina), which can be extracted from minerals such as the bauxite (so named because it was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century near the Baux-de-Provence, in the south of France).
Until 1886, aluminium was exclusively produced through a purely chemical process, by the reduction of Alumina. It is because of that, because of all the intricate and complex manipulations that this chemical reduction involved (and because of the 'laboratory' nature itself of this process, that implied the production of very small volumes only, with a very low yield), that aluminium was so expensive.
But suddenly, in 1886, everything changes, very fast... Two scientists, totally independent of eachother, with no connections at all between them, discovered almost simultaneously, the one in the
USA and the other in France, a novel process for producing aluminium-metal , much straightforward and with a much higher yield, than the previously used chemical process. The french scientist, Mr. Héroult, published his discovery on the 23rd of April 1886; the american one, Mr Hall, on the 9th of July of the same year.

Eros (Piccaddily circle London)
Sand-casted statue in aluminium, 1893. 

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