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    Description

    Hilaire Rouelle. Autograph Manuscript.
    Four-page bifolium in French, 7" x 9.75", n.p.; 1752. This manuscript is entitled "Naphta our Ether marin" [Naphtha or Marine Ether]. Above the title is written "Ludolf cours de chymie chap XI. p. 1044." This manuscript may be a transcription from a chemistry text. Ludolf may refer to Jerome von Ludolf (1708-1764), a German chemist. The manuscript is paraphrased below.

    Since it takes highly concentrated acids to produce ether, we have struggled so far to yield ether from marine salts. We would like to think we can do without it since we have sulfuric ether [in text "ether vitriolique"] and nitrous ether [in text "ether nitreux"] but these two differ in taste and smell, a difference that results from the natural diversity of acids, all of which can combine with sulfur; therefore a hypothetical acid of marine salt would necessarily yield a different ether. The difficulty lies in obtaining a perfectly concentrated version of such an acid. Rouelle describes several failed attempts at obtaining the acid. He then describes the only successful attempt he found: combine 2 pounds of decrepit marine salt [in text "décrépité"] with 1 pound of wine spirit and leave the mixture for several days, then add 1 pound of whitened sulfur and shake vigorously. I distil very slowly at first and finish off with intense heat until desiccation occurs. Occasionally I find a thin layer of ether at the top but usually not, and then I must pour, drop by drop, an oil derived from lime by using salt [in text "huile obtenue de la chaux par le sel"] in order to yield ether at the surface. Clearly, distillation by fire results in a great loss of ether.

    I show the other method I've found for producing marine ether in my Chymie [illegible]: 2 pounds of good antimony combined with 1 pound of wine spirit and close the recipient tightly and let it sit for a few days, then distil it. This yields a very concentrated acid of marine salt.

    Hilaire Marin Rouelle (1718-1779) was a French chemist. Known for his pioneering work on urea, he was the younger brother of Guillaume-François Rouelle (1703-1770), who was also a chemist.

    Condition: Manuscript has horizontal fold; toning around edges; there is tape along left edge of manuscript, presumably where it was tipped into a larger document or album; otherwise good.


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    4th Wednesday
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