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Historical Articles

February, 1954 issue of Plating


George B. Hogaboom—Pioneer of Modern Electroplating

A Tribute from His Friend and Associate, William Blum

George B. Hogaboom—The American Electroplaters’ Society’s first President, Founder and Honorary Member, died at the age of 79 on the last day of 1953.

A descendant of early Dutch settlers, he was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., attended schools in the metropolitan area and was graduated from Newark Technical Institute in 1910. He worked in various supervisory capacities in the plating departments of the International Silver Company, P & F Corbin Division of the American Hardware Corporation, served with the Hanson-Van Winkle-Munning Company, and also acted as a consultant. Mr. Hogaboom served the government as a technical advisor during both World Wars. In addition to his AES affiliation, which included membership in both the Hartford and Newark Branches, he was a member of the American Chemical Society, ASTM, and the Electrodepositors’ Technical Society of England.

The book, ”Principles of Electroplating and Electroforming,” written in collaboration with Dr. Blum, is outstanding among his numerous contributions to the literature of the industry.

Mr. Hogaboom is survived by his wife and three children: G. Byron, Jr. of Kenilworth, N. J.; Ovide of Newington, Conn., and Mrs. Charles Crockett of Manchester, Conn. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and members of the Society which he helped make so great.

In further tribute to him the following words by two of his close friends are also published.

The names of ”Blum and Hogaboom” have been so closely associated through our joint textbook that the title of the book has become secondary. It is therefore appropriate that at this time I should recall and recount some of my personal contacts with George Hogaboom, especially as many of these are so intimately connected with the history of the American Electroplaters’ Society.

I first met George Hogaboom at the third AES convention, held at Dayton, Ohio, in 1915. It was then obvious to me, a newcomer in the electroplating field, that he dominated many of the plans and activities of the AES, of which he was the first president. He welcomed me into the field and immediately started to discuss how the National Bureau of Standards could join in the aims of the Society.

The next occasion for our intimate association was in 1918, when he and others from the plating industry were invited to a conference on military applications of electroplating. Soon thereafter he was appointed as “Electroplating Advisor” to the National Bureau ‘of Standards. Together with Fred (Dad) Liscomb, and Tom Slattery, he brought to us scientists a grasp of practical plating which would otherwise have taken many years to acquire. During this period Hogaboom, Liscomb and Slattery lived in our home, so we talked electroplating most of our waking hours!

In 1920 I was requested to write a book on electroplating, and, recognizing the need for presenting both the practical and theoretical sides, I asked George Hogaboom to be a coauthor. At first he demurred, probably because he was not yet convinced that a scientist could contribute much to this field. After further consideration he agreed and in 1924 the first edition of Blum and Hogaboom appeared. The practical information and formulas supplied by him were especially valuable in this edition, because otherwise I might have found myself explaining processes that did not exist!

During the interval between World Wars I and II, George Hogaboom was active in connection with NBS plating researches, first as a member of an advisory committee and later of the AES Research Committee, of which he was chairman for one year. During this period he constantly brought up new problems for research, some of which were then, and still are, beyond the scope of existing knowledge and methods. His views at times seemed contradictory, because on the one hand he wanted research to be expedited to meet immediate needs, and on the other hand he demanded that every research should be complete and conclusive.

During World War II he was associated with the War Production Board, with special reference to the conservation of metals such as copper and nickel, and the development of substitutes for these metals in plated coatings on both military and civilian supplies. I sat in with him and others in many conferences on this subject. Just as with the nickel shortage of the last few years, he was very critical of substitutes that he felt were unsatisfactory and not creditable to the plating industry.

A Eulogy on George B. Hogaboom

By Royal F. Clarke, Sr.

In a very real sense, George Hogaboom was a perfectionist, and hence was critical of all researches and results that fell short of perfection (as all must). Even when others, including myself, felt that some of his criticisms-were unwarranted, close scrutiny usually showed that improvements were possible in the report or the method, though not necessarily, in the way suggested by him. At one of the Research Committee meetings, in his presence, I stated that “I am always glad to hear George Hogaboom’s criticisms, for I am sure that he will think of everything that any one would suggest, hence. I need not worry about criticisms from others.” Such a person with the determination to fight for his views serves a very useful purpose in any field such as plating, because he forces people to re-examine their assumptions and conclusions, and thus frequently brings about definite improvements.

George Hogaboom represented in the best sense a combination of a vast fund of practical experience and as much science as a person can acquire without the opportunity for a formal scientific education. In recent years he regretted his inability to fully understand the mathematics and advanced physics and chemistry that are now involved in many researches in electrodeposition. I assured him sincerely that he should not worry about that limitation, as most scientists have difficulty in understanding and using the results of the revolutionary researches of the last twenty-five years.

Electroplating was the very life of George Hogaboom and the AES was its living symbol. Even though he was a member of the Electrochemical Society and the ASTM, he was very jealous lest these bodies usurp any of the prerogatives of the AES, a fear that I am sure was unfounded. He was a zealot and a crusader for advancement in our knowledge of plating. Through his persistence he awakened many of us from our complacency or even apathy regarding progress. His life work built a bridge between the art and the science of electroplating, the influence of which will be felt for generations. He was literally a pioneer in this difficult and important field. ID his last letter to me he regretted, in fact resented, his inability to continue the strenuous activities that he had conducted for over sixty years.

His work is finished, it is our task to complete it.

As a personal friend of George Hogaboom for 44 years, I feel it my duty to eulogize him. It was at the first meeting of electroplaters at the Broadway Central Hotel in February 1909, prior to the formation of the old National Electroplaters’ Association of the U. S. and Canada, that I first met George Hogaboom. Our friendship has continued until his death on December 31, 1953. During those 44 years, we had corresponded often after we both had left Newark and exchanged Christmas cards yearly. I received his last card on December 23, 1953.

George had a very extensive library of books on electroplating. One he prized especially was on “Gold Plating” by Roesleur and printed in French.

I recall that George had a tiny hippocampus, a small fish which swims upright and has a head and-foreparts horse like in form (called a sea horse by Webster) George metallized it in copper then silver plated it and used it as a watch charm.

In 1916, George and I attended the Bridgeport, Conn., banquet and took the midnight trolley to my home in East Norwalk. That night it only went to Westport. Since it was a beautiful moonlight night, we walked 3 miles to my home and talked “plating” all the way.

When George was employed in Newark, in a plant where silver was deposited on glass articles such as perfume bottles, small sugar bowls and cream pitchers, I was taken through the plating department. I was shown wires which were wound around the articles that had 36 to 48 hours of silver plate. George tied a wire into a knot showing the softness of the silver deposit and no peeling occurred. It was at this plant that windows were left open one night when the winter temperature dropped to zero. Next morning, George noticed that crystals were adhering to the sides of the silver plating tanks and on the bottom. He siphoned the silver electrolyte and shoveled the precipitate out and had the crystals analyzed by our honorary member, Dr. Joseph W. Richards, Professor at Lehigh University, who reported the crystals were carbonates. That was, I believe, the beginning of ”freezing out of carbonates” from cyanide plating electrolytes. George told me that after the freezing he discovered that he did not need to add as much free cyanide as formerly.

George gave freely of his knowledge on the deposition of metals. His passing will be missed by the entire membership of the American Electroplaters’ Society.

George and I were, until his untimely death, the only two platers living that attended the first meeting in 1909, prior-to the formation of the American Electroplaters’ Society.




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