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The first thought of the medicinal use of plumbago was given to Dr. Weinhold by the fact, that during his journey in Italy he saw workmen in a mirror factory in Venice use it externally from driving away herpes. He imitated them, and described the result in a little work: Der Graphit also Heilmittel gegen Flechten (Plumbago as a remedy for herpes.), (2d ed., Meissen, 1812)). He prescribed its external application either with saliva or with some fat, or he rubbed in the ointment, or applied a plaster of pluumbago. He also administered it in several cases internally, as a confection or in pills, not without success.
Graphite is used in pencils, lubricants, crucibles, foundry facings, polishes, arc lamps, batteries, brushes for electric motors, and cores of nuclear reactors.
Graphite's low friction is due largely to adsorbed films; in the absence of water vapour, graphite loses its lubricating properties and becomes abrasive. Both graphite and molysulfide are chemically inert and have high thermal stability.
Originally a printer and lithographer, Dixon discovered in experiments with typecasting that graphite crucibles withstood high temperatures. In 1827 he began the manufacture of lead pencils, stove polish, and lubricants in Salem, Mass., later moving his business to Jersey City, N.J. In 1850 he secured patents on graphite crucibles for making steel and pottery. He also developed a process for using graphite to grind lenses. In addition to his inventions using graphite, Dixon also experimented with photography and photolithography and, in collaboration with Francis Peabody, devised a technique for printing bank notes in colour to prevent counterfeiting. His other inventions included a process for printing calico in fast colours, a wood-planing machine for shaping pencils, and a galvanic battery.