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Industrial Chemistry; a Manual for Use in Technical Colleges and Schools and for Manufactures.

Naturevolume 18pages218219 (1878) | Download Citation

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DR. PAUL has unquestionably rendered some service to the cause of chemical technology in this country by his translation of Payen's well-known work; nevertheless we think the service would have been still greater had he essayed to present us with an entirely original production. The fact is the translation has been made from a translation; it comes to us from the German through Stohmann and Engler's edition. As a consequence we miss much of what is good in Payen, whilst some things that are bad—notably faults in arrangement and inaccuracies of statement—remain. One is reminded of Macaulay's assertion concerning Johnson's Dictionary, which has been so altered by editors that its author would hardly recognise it. Whenever Dr. Paul is on his own ground he is excellent; the supplementary chapters on the chemistry of the metals, for example, are all that could be desired in such a work. The metallurgical portions, more particularly of the more important metals, are especially well done; we question if our language can show anything better on the subjects as regards clearness and conciseness and accuracy than the accounts of the operations involved in the extraction of lead, silver, and iron. But when the editor has to trust to French and German descriptions of technical processes errors crop up. For example, by far the greater portion of the phosphorus which the world requires is made near Birmingham and in Lyons, but neither of the two establishments which thus practically enjoy the monopoly of the manufacture carries out Nicolas and Pelletier's process as described in this work. Britain also furnishes practically all the bichrome of commerce, but the method described on p. 523 is not an accurate description of the present mode of production. The time-honoured cut on p. 181 no longer represents the method by which iodine is manufactured; nor is sulphur obtained by distillation from the traditional pots sacred to the memory of Morgiana and the Forty Thieves, which almost every compiler of an English text-book has sedulously copied. Saxony produces more than 90 per cent, of the bismuth which is found in commerce, but the liquation process described on p. 505 is no longer in use there. The article on “Friction Matches” is, also, scarcely up to date; the old operation of sulphuration is described in detail as if it were an essential feature in the manufacture; the reader is, indeed, told that the splints are now often dipped in stearin or paraffin, but he would certainly infer from the description that sulphur is generally employed; whereas it is only to meet the demands of lamplighters and sailors who specially need a match less easily extinguished by the wind than the ordinary varieties that a very few establishments continue to use sulphur. The composition of the inflammable paste used in France and Germany may, possibly, be represented by some or all of the eight formulæ given on p. 159, but the “compo” of the English manufacturer is altogether different from these. It is certainly remarkable considering the widespread use of lucifer matches, that so little should be known of their mode of manufacture; it takes quite as many persons to make a match as a pin, and the details of the making are equally interesting.

Industrial Chemistry; a Manual for Use in Technical Colleges and Schools and for Manufactures.

Edited by B. H. Paul (London: Longmans, 1878.)

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https://doi.org/10.1038/018218a0

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