From Alchemy to Chemistry:
Five Hundred Years of Rare and Interesting Books

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rare Book Room Exhibit

FRANKLAND, SIR EDWARD (1825 - 1899). Experimental Researches in Pure, Applied, and Physical Chemistry. London, 1877.

This book is a collection of Frankland's memoirs to the Philosophical Transactions. His researches ranged very widely, from his investigations of "alcohol radicals" to those on combustion and water analysis. What is probably his most lasting contribution was the result of his researches with organometallic compounds, which contain bonds between carbon and a metal. In 1852, he pointed out the 'general symmetry' of the formulae of a number of inorganic and organic compounds, and suggested that "the combining power of the attracting element . . . is always satisfied by the same number of . . . atoms," and thus introduced into chemistry the vitally important conception of valency, which now forms an integral part of modern chemical theory. The idea of valency laid the groundwork for Kekulé's hypothesis of the structure of benzene and for Gerhardt's theory of types. The copy of Experimental Researches on display is opened to the page describing his discovery of the notoriously inflammable dialkyl zinc compounds; Frankland describes that, when he added water to these compounds, "a greenish-blue flame several feet long shot out of the tube, causing great excitement amongst those present and diffusing an abominable odour through the laboratory." Frankland died at the age of 74 of a brief illness contracted while on a salmon fishing trip in Norway.

Dict. Nat. Biog., Supplement, p. 663.

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