Steel as we know it was invented by Henry Bessemer in England in 1855. Up to that time, cast iron was the primary building material, but it was brittle and difficult to work.
Henry mixed pig iron with other metals like nickel and copper to produce the first steel.
Andrew Carnegie pioneered steel production in the US. The use of steel transformed industries such as ship building, railroads, architecture, and even casket making. By the late 1850s, heavy cast iron coffins were being replaced by lighter, and less expensive sheet metal caskets. Today, cold rolled steel is the leading material used for casket production. The primary difference in steel caskets lies in the thickness of the steel employed. 16 gauge steel means that it takes 16 sheets of steel to make a stack an inch thick. So, the lower the gauge number, the thicker the metal. 16 gauge is the thickest steel used in the casket industry. Because of the extra thickness, it is possible to achieve more attractive casket stylings such as elegant urn shapes and stately rounded corners. Families seeking the very best in solid steel choose 16 gauge.