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13— Life and Work in Leipzig

1. A more literal translation might be "bright-born merry children of Jove": UAL, PA 515, f. 3r and 3v, no date, but ca. 29 August 1868; if this is a literary allusion I have not traced it. The document is Erdmann's favorable certification of Graebe's Habilitationsschrift for the University of Leipzig. Erdmann disapproved of Graebe's structural formulas, but thought that such a good chemist as he had proven himself to be would with time be healed of this unfortunate speculative tendency. Kolbe's certificate of approval (ibid., f. 2v) expressed similar thoughts. I thank Dr. E. Vaupel for drawing my attention to these documents. [BACK]

2. He appeared to concede the issue in E. Frankland and B. F. Duppa, "Synthetische Untersuchungen über Aether," ZfC , 11 (1868), 60-64 (on p. 63); however, as late as 1877 he was still hedging his bets: Experimental Researches in Pure, Applied, and Physical Chemistry (London: van Voorst, 1877), p. 65. The same ambivalence is found in his letter to Kolbe of 3 December 1871, SSDM 3566, where he writes, "I am quite certain you will never make an Isomalonic acid, unless the 4 bonds of carbon have different values in which case you may get a dozen." [BACK]

3. Kolbe to Frankland, no date (but ca. 27 October 1864), Frankland Archive 01.04.84. [BACK]

4. This assumption underlay a great deal of Kolbe's work in predicting new isomers and interpreting existing ones. It was made explicit in his Kurzes Lehrbuch der organischen Chemie (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1883), pp. 6-7. [BACK]

5. Kolbe, "Chemische Constitution des Benzols und Phenols und einiger Derivate derselben," JpC , 122 (1876), 347-355 (on p. 347). [BACK]

6. Frankland, "On the Synthesis of Diethoxalic Acid," Proceedings of the

Royal Society , 12 (1863), 396; Frankland and Duppa, "Synthesis of Butyric and Caproic Ethers from Acetic Ether," Proceedings of the Royal Society , 14 (1865), 198-204; "Synthetical Researches on Ethers. No. 2. Action of Sodium and Isopropylic Iodide upon Ethylic Acetate," JCS , 20 (1867), 102-116. [BACK]

7. Frankland and Duppa, "Synthetical Researches on Ethers. No. 1. Synthesis of Ethers from Acetic Ether," PTRS , 156 (1866), 37-72; see also idem, "Researches on Acids of the Lactic Series," PTRS , 156 (1866), 309-359. [BACK]

8. Kolbe to Frankland, 27 May 1866, Frankland Archive 01.02.1558. [BACK]

9. Frankland and Duppa, "Synthetische Untersuchungen," pp. 60-61. [BACK]

10. Kolbe admitted this in JpC , 131 (1881), 377. [BACK]

11. Kolbe to Frankland, 27 May 1866, Frankland Archive 01.02.1558; Kolbe to Frankland, 23 July 1866, Frankland Archive 01.02.1505 (quote is from this letter). Kolbe constantly used equestrian metaphors connected with Kekulé: other examples are benzene as Kekulé's "show-horse," he "rides a fiery steed" in proposing the theory, he always failed to "rein his imagination," or that he "hat sich einmal mit seinem Benzolring vergaloppirt" (Kolbe to Volhard, 16 December 1874, SSDM 3676; cf. also Kolbe's Pegasus metaphor connected with van't Hoff). This may well have had psychological significance, but I am unwilling to speculate on this topic. Another subject for retrospective psychoanalysis is his repeated implication that graphical formulas are somehow materialistic and irreligious. [BACK]

12. Kolbe, "Interpretation der Ergebnisse von Frankland's und Duppa's synthetische Untersuchungen über Aether," ZfC , 10 (1867), 636-640. [BACK]

13. Frankland to Crum Brown, 4 June 1866, quoted in J. W., "Alexander Crum Brown," JCS , 123 (1923), 3422-3431 (on p. 3425); Crum Brown to Frankland, 5 June 1866, Frankland Archive 01.04.1266. [BACK]

14. Frankland and Duppa, "Synthetische Untersuchungen." [BACK]

15. Carl Graebe, "Notizen aus meinem Leben," SSDM 1976-29n, 4, cited in Elisabeth Vaupel, "Carl Graebe (1841-1927): Leben, Werk und Wirken," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Munich, 1987, p. 29. [BACK]

16. J. Volhard, "Über Sarkosin," Annalen , 123 (1862), 261-265. [BACK]

17. For example, T. Wilm and G. Wischin, "Versuche mit Phosgen und Phosgenäther," Annalen , 147 (1868), 150-157, with note by Kolbe on p. 157; H. Byk, "Die isomeren Bernsteinsäuren," JpC , 109 (1870), 19-30, with Kolbe's "Bemerkungen zu vorstehender Abhandlung" on pp. 30-33; and R. Bahrmann, "Zur Kenntniss des Amarins und Furfurins," JpC , 135 (1883), 295-320, with note by Kolbe on p. 320. The first instance can be explained by the probable supposition that Wilm was a former student of Butlerov, but Byk and Bahrmann were pure Kolbe products. Byk commented that he did the work "auf Veranlassung des Prof. Kolbes.'' Kolbe's objection to Bahrmann was that he made liberal use of structural formulas; he commented that he had followed the research with interest, but disapproved of the formulas. Finally, Kolbe's trusted assistant for many years, Ernst Carstanjen, published a number of papers using Kekulé's benzene theory and benzene rings. Some additional instances of Kolbe's students publicly disagreeing with him (while still students) are cited in n. 36. [BACK]

18. A. F. Plate, G. V. Bykov, and M. S. Eventova, Vladimir Vasil'evich

Markovnikov: ocherk zhizni i deiatel'nosti, 1837-1904 (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1962), p. 30, quoting from a letter to Butlerov with no date cited. See also H. M. Leicester, "Controversies on Chemical Structure from 1860 to 1870," in O. T. Benfey, ed., Kekulé Centennial (Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1966), pp. 13-23 (on p. 21), and Leicester, "Vladimir Vasil'evich Markovnikov," Journal of Chemical Education , 18 (1841), 53-57. [BACK]

19. Markovnikov, "Vorläufige Notiz über die Identität der Acetonsäure mit Oxyisobuttersäure," ZfC , 10 (1867), 434; idem, "Über die Acetonsäure," Annalen , 146 (1868), 339-352. [BACK]

20. Plate et al., Markovnikov , p. 31; Markovnikov, in Plate and Bykov, eds., Vladimir Vasil'evich Markovnikov: Izbrannye trudy (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1955), pp. 830-831. [BACK]

21. Kolbe's own account of his conversion to O = 16 is in "Moden der modernen Chemie," JpC , 112 (1871), 241-271 (on pp. 246-254). [BACK]

22. For Graebe's habilitation and teaching at Leipzig, see Vaupel, "Carl Graebe" (see n. 15), pp. 181-190. [BACK]

23. For example, Meyer to Ostwald, 18 November 1883, Ostwald Nachlass, Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, Berlin; Meyer, Geschichte der Chemie von den ältesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: Veit, 1889); idem, Lebenserinnerungen (n.p., n.d., ca. 1918), pp. 39-40. [BACK]

24. The chronological division in this table is not always by uniform time increments but rather is determined by events in Kolbe's life; because of the nonuniformity, an intensive measure (papers per year) is also given. The year 1865 is listed twice, as Kolbe transferred to Leipzig in the middle of that year; papers dating from that year were divided according to where the work was performed. A "paper" is any publication, including notes, brief comments, and polemical articles, and the date of the paper is the publication date of the journal issue in which it appeared. "Student papers" represent papers describing research performed in Kolbe's laboratory, whether the author was a student in the strict sense or not, or whether he still resided in Marburg or Leipzig or not. Thus, this category includes independent papers by assistants, Privatdozenten, and postdoctoral workers, and even student papers that had been directed by assistants or Privatdozenten. Because there is no systematic method to ensure completeness in this category, there are probably some papers that I failed to locate. [BACK]

25. Wilhelm Prandtl, "Das chemische Laboratorium der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in München," Chymia , 2 (1949), 81-97 (on p. 93); Jeffrey Johnson, "Hierarchy and Creativity in Chemistry, 1871-1914," Osiris , [2] 5 (1989), 214-240 (on p. 225). [BACK]

26. Richard Anschütz, August Kekulé , 2 vols. (Berlin: Verlag Chemie, 1929), 2 , 953-960. [BACK]

27. Namely, the Russians A. Bazarov (1868), H. Byk (1868), S. Byk (1879), C. Fahlberg (1873), and A. M. Zaitsev (1866), and the Britons H. Armstrong (1870), C. Bingley (1854), E. Cook (1865), F. Guthrie (1855), W. James (1882), H. Smith (1877), and F. Wrightson (1853). [BACK]

28. A convenient source for Fahlberg, Moore, and Norton is Wyndham D.

Miles, ed., American Chemists and Chemical Engineers (Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1976), s.v. It is interesting—to this writer, at least—to note that Norton was a native Clevelander who attended Western Reserve College for one year (1852-1853) and taught high school in Cleveland before spending a semester in Leipzig in 1870. [BACK]

29. One of Schmidt's doctoral students was Richard Fischer; Fischer taught Henry Schuette, who was Aaron Ihde's doctoral advisor. As I am an Ihde student, I can claim Kolbe as my Doktor-Ur-Ur-Urgrossvater—were I so inclined. [BACK]

30. Joseph S. Fruton, Contrasts in Scientific Style: Research Groups in the Chemical and Biochemical Sciences (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1990), pp. 32 and 141. The smallest number of German Ordinarien among scholarly progeny any of the six chemists that Fruton studied (Liebig, Baeyer, Emil Fischer, Felix Hoppe-Seyler, Willy Küihne, and Franz Hofmeister) was sixteen for Kühne. [BACK]

31. This statement cannot be quantified, as records that would allow one to sort Kolbe's students by field of study have not survived. [BACK]

32. The numbers were derived in the following fashion. Peter Borscheid has estimated [ Naturwissenschaft, Staat und Industrie in Baden (1848-1914) (Stuttgart: Klett, 1976), pp. 84-87 and 234] that there were around 380 university-educated chemists working in German chemical industries in 1851, 900 in 1865, and 2100 in 1884. Taking 1200 as a round-number average for the period 1865-1884, one can presume that the requisite increment for such a work force might be something like 130 new chemists per year (65 representing the average 5.4% growth rate indicated by Borscheid, plus an equal number for replacement due to death, retirement, and so on). Since Leipzig had about sixteen percent of total German university enrollment, Kolbe may have trained an average of about 21 industrial chemists per year. It is true that Kolbe was not the only chemist at Leipzig, but considering Saxony's strength in chemical industry, such a number is not unreasonable. The total over nineteen years is thus something like 400 chemists, or about twenty-five percent of his Praktikanten. The figure for Marburg was derived in a similar fashion. See also Lothar Burchardt, "Die Ausbildung des Chemikers im Kaiserreich," Zeitschrift für Unternehmungsgeschichte , 23 (1978), 31-53. [BACK]

33. In his autobiography ( Lebenserinnerungen , p. 115), Meyer describes his growing independence and increasing share of direction of Doktoranden. "I could name many chemists here," Meyer concludes, "but I will confine myself to mentioning my especially famous students E. Beckmann, Th. Curtius and Hermann Ost." Other dissertations directed by Meyer include those of Paul Degener (1879), J. William James (1882), M. Wallach (1882), O. Henzold (1883), and G. McGowan (1884); those directed by Ost include A. Klinkhardt (1881) and E. Mennel (1882). One of Joseph Fruton's conclusions after studying six research groups ( Contrasts in Scientific Styles ) was that junior colleagues made far greater contributions to the life of their institutes than has hitherto been appreciated. This pattern holds as well in Leipzig. [BACK]

34. J. B. Morrell, "The Chemist Breeders: The Research Schools of Liebig and Thomas Thomson," Ambix , 19 (1972), 1-46. [BACK]

35. Gerald Geison, "Scientific Change, Emerging Specialties, and Research Schools," History of Science , 19 (1981), 20-40. [BACK]

36. Here are some examples: Guthrie and Kolbe, "Über die Verbindungen des Valerals mit Säuren," Annalen , 109 (1859), 296-300, demonstrating, contrary to Kolbe's prediction, that Wurtz' glycol does not dehydrate to acetaldehyde; Kolbe, "Muthmaassliche Existenz zweier Kohlenoxysulfide," JpC , 112 (1871), 381-382, a conjecture that was disproven by his student F. Salomon, "Über Kohlenoxysulfid," JpC , 113 (1872), 476-480; Constantin Fahlberg, "Über Oxyessigsäure (Glycolsäure)," JpC , 115 (1873), 329-346, demonstrating, contrary to Kolbe, the identity of the two named acids; and Kolbe, "Über die chemische Natur der Salylsäure,'' JpC , 120 (1875), 151-157, disproving the existence of salylic acid (he eventually repudiated this last result in private, but he never found the compound and never repudiated it publicly). Armstrong worked three years on a project under Kolbe's direction, even though his views were "diametrically opposite to Kolbe's": H. E. Armstrong to Richard Armstrong, 6 February 1870, quoted in J. Vargas Eyre, Henry Edward Armstrong (London: Butterworths, 1958), pp. 51-52. Three additional instances are cited in n. 17 above. [BACK]

37. Kolbe, "Über einige Abkömmlinge des Cyanamids," JpC , 109 (1870), 288-306 (on pp. 292-294); "Über die Structurformeln und die Lehre von der Bindung der Atome," JpC , 111 (1871), 127-136 (on p. 128). In an intriguing new biography of Lord Kelvin ( Energy and Empire: A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin [Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989]), Crosbie Smith and M. Norton Wise have drawn substantive parallels between Kelvin's science and the Victorian British imperial age. One might be tempted by Kolbe's illiberal political-military metaphors to make the same sort of connection to the militaristic German empire just then being formed at the expense of France. However, the metaphor that actually succeeded in the Bismarckian and Wilhelmian chemical community at large was a democratic one, namely, structuralist notions, which rather contrasts with the dominant political culture. [BACK]

38. Kolbe to Frankland, 17 November 1867, Frankland Archive 01.02.1515 ("Ich habe [Kekulés] Zuvorkommenheit auch angenommen und bin es wohl zufrieden, den alten Streit ruhen zu lassen"); Baeyer to V. Meyer, 3 October 1874, SSDM 7020. [BACK]

39. Kolbe to Varrentrapp, 1 October 1871, VA 268. [BACK]

40. Kolbe, "Moden der modernen Chemie," JpC , 112 (1871), 241-271 (on pp. 257-258). [BACK]

41. Frankland to Kolbe, 3 December 1871, SSDM 3566. [BACK]

42. Kolbe to Volhard, 26 June 1871 and 9 June 1876, SSDM 3656 and 3681; Kolbe to Varrentrapp, 29 August 1874, VA 321. [BACK]

43. He also expressed this view privately to Volhard (16 December 1874, SSDM 3676). "Kekulé belongs to these people the least of all. He blundered once with his benzene ring, but I believe I can say with certainty that he looks with sovereign contempt down upon those chemists who consider his (in the abstract certainly ingenious, but untenable) idea as infallible dogma. Kekulé, of all these people the most sensible, will be the first in due course to disavow his child." [BACK]

44. Kolbe, "Chemischer Rückblick auf das Jahr 1873," JpC , 116 (1874), 417-425 (on pp. 419-420); idem, "Chemischer Rückblick auf das Jahr 1874," JpC , 118 (1875), 449-456 (on pp. 449-450 and 456). [BACK]

45. Kolbe, "Die chemische Synthese, ein chemischer Traum," JpC , 126 (1878), 432-455 (on pp. 440n. and 444-445); idem, "Kritisch-chemische Gänge [gegen die transscendentalen Chemiker]: I," JpC , 135 (1883), 408-417; idem, "Kritisch-chemische Gänge . . . IV," JpC , 136 (1883), 356-382 (on p. 372n.); idem, "Die realen Typen der organischen Verbindungen," JpC , 136 (1883), 440-447 (on p. 441n.). [BACK]

46. J. H. van't Hoff, tr. F. Herrmann, Die Lagerung der Atome im Raume (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1877). [BACK]

47. Kolbe to Heinrich Vieweg, 31 January and 5 February 1881, VA 467 and 468. Until this time, Vieweg had not realized that his business manager had been regularly sending proofs to Kolbe, having long ago been directed to do so by his deceased father Eduard. According to an annotation on the econd of these letters, Heinrich put an immediate end to the practice. [BACK]

48. Kolbe to Lücke, 9 March 1877, VA 364. [BACK]

49. Kolbe, "Zeichen der Zeit: II," JpC , 123 (1877), 473-477. [BACK]

50. Kolbe to Vieweg, 9 June 1877, VA 375. [BACK]

51. Wislicenus to Kolbe, 24 November 1877, SSDM 3550. [BACK]

52. Van't Hoff, "Über den Zusammenhang zwischen optischer Aktivität und Constitution," Berichte , 10 (1877), 1620-1623 (on p. 1620). [BACK]

53. Those who so speculated include Lothar Meyer (1872), Schorlemmer (1881), and Volhard (1882). [BACK]

54. Kolbe to Wöhler, 15 and 18 October 1878, Wöhler Nachlass; Wöhler to Kolbe, 17 October 1878, SSDM 3542; Bunsen to Kolbe, 3 November 1873, SSDM 3505. [BACK]

55. E. yon Meyer, Lebenserinnerung , p. 120. "These attempts at moderating him usually failed when he claimed the right to call things by their correct name . . . he was a fanatic for the truth." Meyer readily conceded that Kolbe often went too far and became too personal, hurting his own cause. Moreover, the journal itself was badly damaged by these attacks. [BACK]

56. Dr. R. [Kolbe], "Vertrauliches Schreiben an Professor Kolbe," JpC , 124 (1877), 467-472. [BACK]

57. Kekulé to Kolbe, 5 February 1878, reprinted in JpC , 125 (1878), 157-158. Kolbe replied privately to Kekulé (11 February 1878, August-Kekulé-Sammlung), assuring Kekulé that his article would be published, and commenting only that he thought it not gentlemanly (anständig) to appeal to an opponent's sense of fair play (Rechtlichkeit). He repeated the comment in the printed version. [BACK]

58. Kolbe, "Kritik der Rectoratsrede von Aug. Kekulé: 'über die wissenschaftlichen Ziele und Leistungen der Chemie,'" JpC , 125 (1878), 139-156; idem, "Nachtrag zu dem vertraulichen Schreiben des Dr. R.," JpC , 125 (1878), 157-163. Kekulé's address was published separately and was subsequently reprinted in Anschütz, 2 , 903-917. [BACK]

59. A bogus charge, of course. Kolbe had written Volhard on 1 January 1878 (SSDM 3682) to try to find out whether or not Kekulé had had a classical

Gymnasium education, saying it was very important that he find out soon , for the sake of a wager. [BACK]

60. Kolbe, "Kritik," pp. 140, 145, 149-152, and 156. [BACK]

61. Graebe to Schmitt, 12 April 1878, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Darmstaedter-Sammlung, G 2 1868 (6), cited in Elisabeth Vaupel, "Carl Graebe" (see n. 15), p. 36. [BACK]

62. Kolbe, "Die chemische Synthese." [BACK]

63. Kolbe to Wöhler, 15 October 1878, Wöhler Nachlass; Kolbe to Frank-land, 27 November 1878, 5 January 1879, and 30 July 1883, Frankland Archive 01.02.1423, 01.02.1432, and 01.02.1533; Kolbe to Volhard, 27 October 1878, SSDM 3683. Frankland was indeed amused, "but, altogether, I dont [ sic ] think the Rede a bad one for a mixed audience. It is of about the calibre of a Friday evening lecture at the Royal Institution" (Frankland to Kolbe, 3 January 1879, SSDM 3569). [BACK]

64. Volhard to Kolbe, 9 November 1878, SSDM 3516. Volhard told Kolbe of his high regard in his letter of 7 May 1870, SSDM 3620. [BACK]

65. Kolbe to Volhard, 20 November 1878, SSDM 3684. [BACK]

66. For example, he thought that the Berzelian "schwefelsaures Bleioxyd" was much superior to the Frenchified "Bleisulfat" ( JpC , 112 , 242); on another occasion, he excoriated Volhard for using the neologism "ester" (Kolbe to Volhard, 2 July 1874, SSDM 3669). In this regard, Thomas Lounsbury has trenchantly observed, ". . . no one who has once taken the language under his care can ever again be really happy. That way misery lies": The Standard of Usage in English (New York: Harper, 1908), p. 11. [BACK]

67. Kolbe to Frankland, 5 January 1879 and 11 February 1881, Frankland Archive 01.02.1432 and 01.02.1447. [BACK]

68. Kolbe to Roscoe, 9 February and 29 October 1881, and Schorlemmer to Roscoe, 5 November 1881, Roscoe Collection. [BACK]

69. Kolbe, "Meine Betheiligung an der Entwickelung der theoretischen Chemie," JpC , 131 (1881), 305-323, 353-379, and 497-517; and 132 (1881), 374-425; issued as a separate under the title Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der theoretischen Chemic (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1881). [BACK]

70. This comment actually appeared in his "Kritisch-chemische Gänge . . . IV," p. 372n. Kekulé's student and .biographer Richard Anschütz also noted Kekulé's physical decline, starting around 1870: August Kekulé , 1 , 369 and 415-416. [BACK]

71. Kolbe, "Betheiligung," p. 405. [BACK]

72. Kolbe, Kurzes Lehrbuch der organischen Chemic (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1883), pp. vi-vii. [BACK]

73. Kolbe to Frankland, 23 March [1881] and I April 1881, Frankland Archive 01.02.1442 and 01.02.1436. [BACK]

74. Frankland to Kolbe, 19 May 1881, SSDM 3572; Frankland's selfdefense is in his Experimental Researches , pp. 146-154. [BACK]

75. Frankland to Kolbe, 23 September 1883, SSDM 3573. [BACK]

76. Kolbe to Frankland, 30 July and 28 October 1883, Frankland Archive 01.02.1533 and 01.02.1526. [BACK]

77. Kekulé's manuscript response was first published by Anschütz ( Kekulé , 1 , 540-569); a facsimile edition of the manuscript was published in 1965: Cassirte Kapitel aus der Abhandlung: Ueber die Carboxytartronsäure und die Constitution des Benzols (Weinheim: Verlag Chemie), from which the quotation is taken (letter of 25 August 1883, unpaginated). [BACK]

78. Volhard to Frau Baeyer, 2 December 1882, Baeyer Collection. [BACK]

79. Kolbe to Volhard, 21 July 1884, SSDM 3687. [BACK]

80. Kolbe to Vieweg, 30 January 1878 and 24 January 1881, VA 408 and 466. [BACK]

81. Kolbe to Vieweg, 16 October 1883, VA 511. [BACK]

82. Kolbe to Ost, 8 April 1884, SSDM 6808. [BACK]

83. Volhard to Kolbe, 4 December 1874, SSDM 3514. [BACK]

84. For example, Kolbe, "Über die Structurformeln und die Lehre von der Bindung der Atome," JpC , 111 (1871), 133; "Moden der modernen Chemie," p. 255; and "Rückblick auf 1874," pp. 453-455. [BACK]

85. Kolbe, Über die chemische Constitution der organischen Kohlenwasserstoffe (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1869), pp. 8-10. [BACK]

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