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Gustav Adolf Boeddicker

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Gustav Adolf Boeddicker (1850-1923) sometimes 'Gustav Adolph Boeddiker' of Henry Wiggin and Co


1923 Obituary [1]

GUSTAV ADOLF BOEDDICKER, Member of Council, and for some years Vice-President of the Institute, died on May 5 in his seventy-fourth year. His death will leave a very distinct gap in the metallurgical world, particularly that concerned with nickel and the alloys of nickel.

He was born at Iserlohn, in Westphalia, in 1850, and educated in his earlier years at the local grammar school, later at the Berlin Technical College and the Royal School of Mines of Berlin, at which institutions he received his chemical and metallurgical training.

For some years he was demonstrator and assistant to Professor Finkener at the Berlin School of Mines, and subsequently entered industry as chemist at the nickel works of Messrs. Basse and Selve at Altena, in Westphalia. It was during this latter period that Mr. Boeddicker gained valuable practical experience in the refining of nickel and in the manufacture of copper-nickel alloys, which his firm undertook at that time for the German Government - experience that furnished him with very considerable insight into the difficulties of the commercial production of these alloys.

It was in 1877, when he was about twenty-seven years of age, that he was offered the post of chemist by Messrs. Henry Wiggin & Co., Ltd., who at that time were refining nickel and cobalt at their Birmingham works. Mr. Boeddicker accepted the offer, and from that date settled permanently in England. His influence was very quickly felt in the Birmingham works, and a number of improvements in the methods of refining nickel can be directly attributed to his energy and ability, which were fully recognized by the firm in his appointments successively as works manager and joint managing director. In the latter capacity he was responsible for many years for the technical administration of Messrs. Henry Wiggin & Co.'s business.

Undoubtedly his main interests during the whole of his life in this country lay in the administration of this enterprise, which was very complex and made great demands on his time, leaving him relatively little to spare for outside work. Mr. Boeddicker's metallurgical career is therefore inseparably bound up with the story of the development of the firm with which he was so long connected. This business including, as it did, not only the refining of nickel and cobalt, but the manufacture in commercial forms of a large number of the different alloys of nickel, presented a very considerable number of practical works problems, in which he found ample scope for his energy.

His earlier training and experience, however, clearly influenced his metallurgical bent throughout his whole English career, and though he did much useful work in alloy metallurgy, it was in the refining of nickel that he was always most completely at home. On this subject he was undoubtedly an authority of the first rank.

He had travelled extensively on the Continent, in the United States of America, and in Canada, and gained acquaintance almost at first hand with all the methods in practical use for the winning and refining of nickel from its ores, and also came in touch with many other methods which had been tried and abandoned. It is a distinct loss to the literature of this branch of metallurgy that Mr. Boeddicker had so little time and opportunity to make the contribution to it that his wide knowledge and experience would have fully justified.

It was the earnest hope of his friends that his retirement from active works management, which took place at the end of 1921, might have enabled him to do something towards making up this loss and at least give to metallurgical literature some sections of his wide experience of refining practice. The project undoubtedly appealed to him, but his health quickly showed signs of the break up which finally resulted in his death. His work for the Institute of Metals is well known to its members, particularly in the Birmingham area. Not only was he one of the original founders of the Institute itself and a member of its first and all subsequent Councils, but it was he who was almost entirely responsible for the origination of the scheme for local sections, beginning with Birmingham as early as 1911.

He was the first Chairman of the Birmingham Section, and exercised a predominating influence in its meetings for several years. He contributed papers and joined in its discussions, and endeavoured in many ways to further its influence in the trade. It is not too much to say that it was to Mr. Boeddicker's influence very largely that could be traced the awakening of what may be termed the appreciation of the value of science in metallurgical industry, which has been definitely perceptible in Birmingham during the last ten or fifteen years. His own success was due unquestionably to his combination of scientific training, with a strong sense of the value of practical experience, and to his ability to utilize both to the fullest extent.

Though of later years he was not able to attend many meetings of the Institute either local or general, he was always willing and eager to give his advice and assistance wherever it was desired, and all his relationships with members of the Institute were characterized by a charm and geniality which made him many friends.

Owing to his nationality the war brought him many difficult experiences, but those who knew him best accorded him their highest admiration for his conduct during that difficult period. His position enabled him to give to his adopted country valuable service, and this he unquestionably rendered ungrudgingly, and on more than one occasion his efforts elicited the warm appreciation of Government officials with whom he came into touch. He may be said to have practically died "in harness," since he retained his active interests in his firm almost to the end, and it is a matter of very deep regret to his friends that he lived so short a time to enjoy the relative leisure which might have been his in the remaining period of his life.

He actually retired from the post of managing director in December 1921, but retained his seat on the Board until his death. In Birmingham particularly he will be greatly missed, and it may truthfully be said that metallurgy in general has suffered a distinct loss by his decease.— W. R. B



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