On February 23rd… The Singular Affair of the Aluminum

Name the two cases these quotes are from if you would like:

We all filed into the front room and sat round the central table while the Inspector unlocked a square tin box and laid a small heap of things before us. There was a box of vestas, two inches of tallow candle, an A D P brier-root pipe, a pouch of seal-skin with half an ounce of long-cut Cavendish, a silver watch with a gold chain, five sovereigns in gold, an aluminum pencil-case, a few papers, and an ivory-handled knife with a very delicate, inflexible bade marked Weiss & Co., London.


Here’s the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife.

Portrait of Charles Martin Hall
Portrait of Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914)


What do these two quotations have in common? Aluminum!

Charles Martin Hall was able to isolate “aluminum metal by passing an electric current through a solution of aluminum oxide in molten cryoliteFebruary 23, 1886.

The “Hall Process” made aluminum available for use in relatively inexpensive commercial products like the pencil-case and crutch above.

Information provided from the volume A Curious Collection of Dates, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), with additional information on the Hall Process from the American Chemical Society.