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Lot 38: Edison , Thomas A. Autograph manuscript laboratory notebook with eight sketches.Platinum House
July 11, 2014
Calabasas, CA, USALive Auction
38. Edison , Thomas A. Autograph manuscript laboratory notebook with eight sketches, [West Orange, New Jersey, or Fort Meyers, Florida] (6 75 x 4.25 in; 170 x 108 mm) with original flexible black leather covers, 121 pages featuring experimental notations in Edison’s hand, including several pencil drawings also in his hand. Edison logs his experiments from October 1927 through January 1928 to find alternate organic sources for the production of rubber for automotive tires. Edges occasionally rubbed with slight handling.
At the request of industrialists Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison’s 121-page laboratory notebook documents his last experiments of his fabled career of discovery to find a substitute source of rubber for automobile tires.
Some excerpts from Edison’s writings:
When get to Ft. Myers examine roots of Caster oil plant for latex, has rhizomes, it’s like gatropha [jatropha]–I only examined stalk. The seeds are just like Gapatha Texania I got. Try weak Hevea latex & coarse boneblack–also Japata Tex latex–with boneblack to repeat other results. Possibly Rubber is in a transparent latex in some plants & boneblack is a ‘polymerio.’ Make separate Latex Resin then Rubber about same strength boneblack separately see if clear if one clears & not the other, mix a new lot together & boneblack, best rubber for both. Schmerka to test 3 checks Hevea in Benzol, Chloroform Bisulphide, Petroleum Ether & Ethyl Acetate in comparison with Dichloroethylene 3 checks. Try saturated sol[ution] of Barium Bromide 150 to 100 water cold. Idea being to coagulate Hevea latex. There is a Rubber plantation at Cocoanut Grove Fla. owned by Mr. Keyes has 120 species of rubber trees under cultivation. Can learn more of him from Dr. MD Cody, University of Fla. Have written him for a list. Use thermometers on platter & keep constant heat of 135°F & press plates - from these results will know temp we can constantly use on press test the acetates on hot plate see if sticky at any temp. If MGD we have is too soft from not having been burnt at high enough temperature we can get an Electric & burn some higher. It looks as facetate soda is best bet, it melts in water of crystalinon at 136°Fahr. - Can keep press that warm. Probably sticky below that temp. See if it is Alkaline or Acid to test paper -ask Schmerka if good test for it & if it affects our C02 from hot say 212°F
It is probable that something put in Electrolyte on an old cell & both N[egative] & Positive poles connected together as cathode. The can being positive that a small current density over a long time or a high density over a short time will reduce the Fe203 hydrox to lower hydrate or Fe - to renew contacts & bring cell back.
Take all the samples of various rubbers sent to me by Firestone. From Montair one wedgewood Montair - set of screens. Supply of screen cloth - 3 oz bottles filled with the different reagents, 1 gross of the bottle corks to suit. Rubber corks for Reflex Condenser & bottles to suit, petcocks for lapper & vent tubing. Select 3 kinds beakers & send: 15 each large, 20 of medium, 30 smaller, 40 of the small size. I use 2 spatulas, 2 Racks with test tubes. Assorted glass tubing from 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 1-inch thru & thick walls ...Sclunerka to make full list of chemicals he needs. Also of all apparatus, fusion cups, plating crucibles & all appliances.
Ford starter - The best method of making the MgO etc. granule separation plate to get maximum big porosity would be to use say Sulfate Soda to water & add 100 mesh to the MgO. Then when heated they would melt & lock together the adjacent MgO particle which would leave large spaces which use other MgO would be in contact where there were no sulfate pieces & would not be able to soften as a whole. Try this. It is said that Dr. Osius of Pasadena had obtained fine rubber from the milk of the Panache the French fig tree. The common California variety Kadota & the Adriatic are being investigated. All our rubber will probably before purification be tacky. Perhaps a dry grind will ball the rubber, if so the powder can be blown with a powerful air jet against hardened steel or Silica the rubber will bounce.
[Beneath this notation, Edison has sketched the schematic for this process with the air nozzle directing the ground rubber toward the steel or silica plate with the balled rubber settling below.]
In addition to the his notations, Edison has drafted eight sketches of various plants used in his experiments, including Goldenrod, Sonchus Arvensis, Sonchus Oleraceus, Lettuce, Sonchus Asper, Solidago Caesia, Sempervirens, Juncea, Serafina and Laceolota.
The last experimental work of Edison’s life was done at the request of Edison’s good friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in the late 1920s. They asked Edison to find a substitute source of rubber for use in automobile tires. The natural rubber used for tires up to that time came from the rubber tree, which does not grow in the United States, and was becoming increasingly expensive. Edison tested thousands of different plants to find a suitable alternative, eventually finding a type of Goldenrod weed that could produce enough rubber to be practicable. Edison was still working on this at the time of his death. Edison began keeping a systematic record of his experiments in 1871. The Thomas Edison National Historic Park administered by Rutgers University holds an extensive collection of these laboratory notebooks. Direct from the collection of Edison’s grand-daughter, this represents one of the few manuscript notebooks in private hands recording Edison’s experiments. A highly important scientific journal accomplished in the hand of one of the greatest and prolific scientific minds in America.
$50,000 - $75,000