He made great improvements in bank-note engraving by substituting steel for copper plates. After residing for some time in Boston and in New York, he removed to Philadelphia in 1814, and became associated with a firm of bank-note engravers. In 1818 he went to England, accompanied by Mr. Fairman and several workmen, and obtained a contract for supplying the Bank of Ireland with plates. He carried on his business extensively for many years in London, and was employed in perfecting engines and machines to be worked by steam-power. He originated a process for transferring engravings from one steel plate to another.
He also invented an instrument called the bathometer, to measure the depth of water, and the pleometer, to mark with precision the speed at which a vessel moves through the water. He constructed a gun in which steam, generated at an enormous pressure, was used for propulsion instead of gunpowder, and with it passed balls through eleven planks of the hardest deal, each an inch thick, placed some distance apart. With a, pressure of only 65 atmospheres he penetrated an iron plate a quarter of an inch thick. He also screwed to a gun-barrel a tube filled with balls, which, falling into the barrel, were discharged at the rate of nearly 1,000 a minute.
Maker of the George Washington Funeral Medals
Washington died on December 14, 1799. Two funeral processions were held in Boston, the first was sponsored by the Masonic Lodge on Feb. 11, 1800 while the second was a general procession on February 22, 1800. According to Baker the Newburyport diemaker Jacob Perkins produced medals for each event. The two medals have similar obverses. The reverse of the medal for the Masonic procession, Baker 165, contains a legend in four lines with a small skull and crossbones at the bottom. The reverse of the medal shown above, though to be for the general procession, displays a legend in two lines with an urn in the center. Angel Pietri has discovered the Boston Masonic Lodge still owns an urn made by Paul Revere that contains a lock of Washington's hair. Pietri examined the procession in detail, using contemporary accounts. In the diary of the Reverend William Bently, who gave the funeral sermon for the Mason's event there is a mention of Perkins, "on this occasion so well known for his excellent medals ... of our General Washington." (Pietri, pp. 15 and 17). From this and the prominence of the urn in the procession Pietri suggests both Washington medals were produced and sold at the Masonic procession.