The latest Classic Kit column goes online some time in the next 48 hours. It’s about Avery Adrian Morton, a brilliant synthetic chemist who specialized in heterocycles, but who first figured out how to make organosodium compounds and who came up with a flask design that includes creases to maximize turbulence.
While getting the article together I wandered over the British Library to have a look at his book Laboratory Technique in Organic Chemistry written in 1938. It’s a real gem of a volume because it not only has lots of neat methods explained and illustrated but he also provides lots of crucial references. For one thing he correctly attributes the “triangle method” of distillation to Leonard T Thorne, rather than to Perkin. And he provides the original references to Vigreux. If only I’d known about it two years ago – it would have saved me a lot of stress and hunting.
So I thought I should get myself a copy and started looking on Abe and Alibris. Sure enough there are copies about. But then a small miracle happened – I was asked to have a look at the books of an elderly chemist who died recently to see whether there was anything of interest. To my delight and astonishment, there it was – small and perfectly formed. So I have my own little memorial to Avery Morton. And I think it will help rather nicely with Classic Kit.