A Radio Talk by Charles F. Kettering
About sixty years ago, Professor Frank Jewett was telling his class something about a then comparatively rare metal - aluminum. He gave them some of the highlights of the history of the metal. He told them how Oersted, a Dane, in 1825 first isolated the new element and Wohler, in Germany, using an entirely different method succeeded in producing the same material. But Oersted and Wohler had failed to get the metal in anything more than a powder.
A Frenchman, Henri Deville, in 1854, managed to obtain metallic aluminum by reducing aluminum chloride with metallic sodium. The first object to be made of aluminum was a rattle for the Prince Imperial of France. Napoleon III wore with pride an aluminum helmet and once, at a state dinner, he had the most distinguished guests served on aluminum plates, the others had to be content with just plain gold. From 1860 to 1880 the yearly world production was only about a ton and a half a year.