Casimir Zeglen

Casimir Zeglen

Kazimierz Żegleń (Casimir Zeglen), born in 1869 near Ternopil, invented the first bulletproof vest [ [http://www.lotysz.webd.pl/they_came_casimir_zeglen.html Article about Zeglen with some sources listed] ] . At the age of 18 he entered the Order of the Resurrection in Lviv. In 1890, he moved to the United States. In 1893, after the assassination of the mayor of Chicago, he invented the first bulletproof vest. In 1897, he improved it together with Jan Szczepanik who was the inventor of the first bulletproof armour in 1901. It saved the life of Spanish king Alfons XIII - his carriage was covered with Szczepanik's bulletproof armour when a bomb exploded near it.

He was a Catholic priest of St. Stanislaus' Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, then the largest Polish church in the country, with 40,000 in the parish. In his early 20s he began experimenting with the cloth, using steel shavings, moss, hair, etc. but nothing stood the test until he made use of silk. All early experiments produced an inflexible cloth which was more in the nature of a coat of chainmail. After the assassination of Mayor Carter Harrison in Chicago, Mr. Zeglen renewed his efforts to find a bullet proof material and determined to use silk. In his mid 30s he discovered a way to weave the silk, to enable it to capture the bullet, while visiting weaving mills in Vienna, Austria, and Aachen, Germany.

A one-eighth inch thick, four ply bulletproof vest produced there was able to protect the wearer from the lower velocity pistol bullets of that era. The Rev. Zeglen himself submitted to a test in Chicago. He put on a vest of the material and an expert revolver shot fired at the vest at eight paces and not one of the bullets disturbed Mr. Zeglen. The weight of the fabric was 1/2 lb per sqr/ft.

Article about Kazimierz Żegleń: http://www.lotysz.webd.pl/they_came_casimir_zeglen.html

Tests of the bulletproof vest by Jan Szczepanik and Kazimierz Żegleń in 1901 - Mr. Borzykowski (friend of Szczepanik) shots to his servant:

References

*"", "Brooklyn Eagle", October 9, 1902

* Lotysz, Slawomir. "Mnich wynalazca" (Monk-inventor). Polonia (Chicago) Vol. 13, No. 1-2 (2007) pp. 68-71, and Vol. 14, No. 3-4 (2007) pp. 64-67.

* Articles in Nowy Dziennik (a Polish Daily News) published in New York City): Kuloodporny ksiadz ("Bulletproof priest"), May 5, 2006; Polski ksiadz i Polski Edison ("Polish priest and Polish Edison"), May 13, 2006; Od habitu do opony ("From a Religious habit to a tire"), May 20, 2006.


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