Several years ago Alfred Bader, the founder of the Aldrich Chemical Company, who is also known for his interest in Dutch painting introduced me to the name of Richard Anschütz, a late 19th century organic chemist who was August Kékulé’s protégé and eventually succeeded him as Professor of Chemistry in Bonn.
Bader, then well into his 1970’s would visit chemistry departments and gave talks about the untold story of four coordinate carbon and the structure of benzene. The villain in the story was Kékulé, by all accounts an insecure egomaniac who may, perhaps, have got some of his best ideas from others. Bader’s disdain for Kekulé was palpable and infectious.
A hero in the tale was Richard Anschütz who spent many years trying to piece together the stories of Archibald Scott Couper and Johann Josef Loschmidt. Anschütz gathered much of the evidence that they had both preceded Kékulé in their proposals, but never got the credit they deserved.
So this month’s Classic Kit is a tribute both to Anschütz – whose little book “Die Destillation unter vermindertem Druck in Laboratorium” I have drawn on previously (see Claisen’s Flask and Perkin’s Triangle) – and to Alfred Bader, a great benefactor of British chemistry teaching. He is now too elderly and frail to travel any more, and who will probably never read this. He is widely remembered across the UK.
Anyway, here is Anschütz’s manometer. If you’re a chemist, you’ve used it.