[By the Last American Mail]The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1293, p. 630.
December 24, 1864
By the last American mail a letter, which is remarkable both as a documentary curiosity and as a specimen of manufacturing skill, was received by the Birmingham Journal. It is written on iron, rolled so thin that the sheet is only twice the weight of a similar sheet of ordinary notepaper. The letter is dated "South Pittsburg (Pennsylvania), Nov. 6, 1864," and says, "In the number of your paper dated Oct. 1, 1864, there is an article setting forth that John Brown and Co., of the Atlas Works, Sheffield, had succeeded in rolling a plate of iron 13½in. thick. I believe that to be the thickest plate ever rolled. I send you this specimen of iron made at the Sligo ironworks, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, as the thinnest iron ever rolled in the world up to this time, which iron I challenge all England to surpass for strength and tenuity. This, I believe, will be the first iron letter that ever crossed the Atlantic Ocean.--Yours, &c., John C. Evans." The iron is said to be of exceedingly fine quality, and the sheet is by far the thinnest ever seen in this country. The letter will be deposited in the museum of the Midland Institute. Tested by one of Holtzappfel's gauges, the thickness of the sheet is found to be the 1000th part of an inch. A sheet of Belgian iron, supposed hitherto to be the thinnest yet rolled, is the 666th part of an inch thick, and the thickness of an ordinary sheet of notepaper is about the 400th part of an inch.