Kosmoid was a group of three companies set up by the Glasgow doctor Alexander Shiels in 1904: Kosmoid Ltd, Kosmoid Locks Ltd, and Kosmoid Tubes Ltd. They were established to take advantage of Shiels’ “special facility to introduce patents”. Along with his brother-in-law William Elliot, Shiels held more than a hundred British patents for a wide range of engineering processes, including one for the manufacture of weldless tubes, which was the business of Kosmoid Tubes Ltd. Following Shiels’ death Kosmoid and Kosmoid Locks were dissolved, but Kosmoid Tubes was reconstituted as the Dumbarton Weldless Tube Company, which was taken over by Babcock and Wilcox in 1915. That company continued to make weldless tubes at the ex-Kosmoid factory until 1997.[1]

The three Kosmoid companies, with a combined share value equivalent to £8 million at today’s values, were controlled by a secretive organisation set up by Shiels, The Metallurgical Syndicate. The Syndicate’s primary aim was to exploit two processes known only to Shiels, the Quicksilver Process and the Copper Process, by which quicksilver could be produced from lead and copper from iron. In 1906 the Daily Express published a report from an anonymous source stating that Kosmoid’s real business was two-fold: the production of a hitherto unknown metal called cuferal – a mixture of copper and iron – and the transmutation of lead and iron into gold, silver and copper;[1] the Magnum Opus of alchemy, the search for the philosopher’s stone.