Gore, George

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Gore, George

(b. Bristol, England, 22 January 1826; d. Birmingham, England, 20 December 1908)


Gore was named for his father, who was a cooper. At the age of twelve he left school and went to work as an errand boy and later as apprentice to a cooper. All his life he was an avid reader and during his early years eagerly pursued an interest in science. In 1851 Gore moved to Birmingham, where he spent the rest of his life. There he was employed as a chemist by a local firm that manufactured phosphorus. Satisfactory phosphorus matches had been introduced into England only recently, and Birmingham had quickly become a center for their manufacture.

At this time Birmingham was also the center of a fast-growing electroplating industry, and Gore’s interest in electricity led him to the investigation of plating techniques. From 1854 to 1863 he published many articles on electrodeposition of metals and acquired a reputation as a consultant for local manufacturers. Of particular interest was his study on the properties of electrodeposited antimony. In 1865 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society for his work in the field of electrochemistry.

Gore published a study of the preparation and properties of anhydrous hydrofluoric acid, which he carried out from 1860 to 1870. In this work he repeated the electrolysis of hydrofluoric acid, using a variety of electrodes, in an attempt to isolate fluorine. In each case a fluoride compound was formed with the material of the anode, but with the use of a special carbon electrode Gore reported that he detected a faint odor resembling that of chlorine. A quantity of fluorine gas sufficient to permit its characterization was not isolated until 1886, by Henri Moissan, who used platinum-iridium electrodes. Gore also conducted an investigation of silver fluoride, which he published in 1870. He found that iodine combined with silver fluoride to produce IF5.

From 1870 to 1880 Gore was a lecturer in physics and chemistry at King Edward’s School in Birmingham. In 1880 he formed the Institute of Scientific Research and served as its director until his death at the age of eighty-two. During these years he was a consultant to industry and continued his research on electrolysis and voltaic cells.


The 125 scientific papers of George Gore published to 1900 are listed in the Royal Society, Catalogue of Scientific Papers, vols. II, VII, X, XV. Among the most important are “On Hydrofluoric Acid,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 159 (1869), 173–200; and “On Fluoride of Silver,” ibid., 160 (1870), 227–246. His books include The Theory and Practice of Electro-Deposition (London. 1856); The Art of Electro-Metallurgy (London, 1870); The Scientific Basis of National Progress, Including That of Morality (London, 1882); The Art of Electrolytic Separation of Metals (London, 1890); and The Scientific Basis of Morality (London, 1899).

Obituary notices appeared in Nature, 79 (1909), 290; Electrician, 62 (1909), 467: and Proceedings of the Royal Society, 84 (1911), xxi-xxii.

Daniel P. Jones

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