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Manuscript laboratory notebook of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) was a French chemist and physicist best known for his work on the thermal expansion of gasses. He was professor of physics at the Sorbonne from 1808-1832, then held the chair of chemistry at the Jardin des Plantes. Among his other discoveries and co-discoveries were the composition of water with Alexander von Humboldt) and the elements boron and iodine. Gay-Lussac was named a foreign member of the Swedish Royal Academy of the Sciences and the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He also served in the Chamber of Deputies as the representative of birthplace Haute-Vienne.

The notebook contains observations of several hundred experiments dealing with topics such as the solubility of salts, sulfates and other compounds, fermentation, tobacco, and distillation of alcohols. Of special interest are the notes in Lussac's hand dated 1824 "dissolution d' indigo" and dealing with the standardization of indigo solutions. In the published paper on this topic Lussac first coined the terms "pipettes" and "burettes" and page 119 shows his drawing of a pipette.

Notebook is 8.5 x 6 inch with a green paper cover produced by Thierry, Md. Papetier of Paris. Notebook has 186 pages of hand written text in various hands including Gay-Lussac. The contents date from 1820 to 1825 during which time Gay-Lussac was professor at the École Polytechnique. Manuscript text is written in black ink and pencil. Drawings are integrated in the text and are in black ink. Notebook also includes six color samples, three inserted manuscript leaves and a 1.34 x 3 inch printed carte-de-visite bearing the inscription "Mr Gay Lussac au Museum d' Histoire Naturelle." Samples found on pages 179-180 are smears of dessicated ochre, kermes, and a precipiate of sulphur. -- physical description from dealer's catalog.

Source of acquisition--Jonathan Hill, Bookseller. Method of acquisition--Purchase;; Date of acquisition--2016..

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