Lot 103: Pasteur, Louis. An important collection of seven manuscripts by the renowned French chemist.
July 11, 2014
Calabasas, CA, USALive Auction
103. Pasteur, Louis. An important collection of seven manuscripts by the renowned French chemist including:
Autograph manuscript unsigned, in French, 1 page (9 x 6.87 in.; 229 x 175 mm.), [Paris] 24 May 1858, being notes on the work of Monsieur Rets entitled: “Present state of studies of silkworms in the Vivrais.”
Pasteur on the study of silkworm illnesses.
Pasteur writes in part: This is what I notice in this note: The few Italian species which, up to now, had resisted the illness and last year had given good results , have now contracted it They had been left from the early stages by the breeders . . . Designation of the species give the best guarantees . . . nontheless there is no sign of any other disease than that of the little ones . . . The worms submitted to sulfur and carbon treatment are well up to the present. The worms are vigorous, healthier, steadier . . .
The present manuscript was written well before Pasteur concentrated his efforts in battling a catastrophic disease of silkworms which was then ruining the production of silk in the south of France during the five-year period from 1865 to 1869. In 1853, silkworm eggs could no longer be produced in France, but had to be imported from Lombardy. The disease then spread to Italy, Spain and Austria. Dealers procuring eggs (i.e., seeds) for the silkworm breeders had to go farther and farther east in an attempt to secure healthy products. The disease followed them, soon engulfing Greece, Turkey, the Caucasus, China and even Japan. By 1865, the silkworm industry in France was near ruin. Though Pasteur had never ever seen a silkworm or a mulberry tree, he began––at the request of his master Jean Baptiste Dumas, the famous chemist––to investigate the cause of the epidemic. To be of value in his scientific endeavor, Pasteur had to become a masterful industrialist––and therefore, it is quite expected that he would criticize those who would be willing to let their own economic failures be dismissed––blaming disease rather than their own ineptitude or mismanagement.
Autograph manuscript unsigned, in French, 1 page (8.25 x 5.25 in.; 210 x 133 mm.), [Paris, autumn 1881], being preliminary notes for a lecture with extensive emendations; accompanied by Pasteur’s engraved calling card.
Pasteur on the enchantment of science with mention of the assassination of President James A. Garfield.
A curious manuscript in the hand of Pasteur with fascinating content as the French chemist begins preparations for a lecture: Do you know what to us is the charm of your studies? Do you know, if you will allow me to speak thus, what is the enchantment of science? It is that we can provide the proof of our principles. Who can give that, this proof of principles, in politics, religion, even in morals? Who can put into the precision of formulas human passions and their sometimes terrible effects, for example the assassination of a Garfield by a dreadful madman . . .
No doubt Pasteur wrote the present draft in the autumn of 1881 after President James A. Garfield was shot by assassin Charles J. Guiteau, a rejected and disillusioned Federal office seeker on 2 July 1881. Garfield died on 19 September 1881.
Autograph letter signed (“L. Pasteur”), in French, 1 page (7.87 x 5.12 in.; 200 x 130 mm.), Paris, 3 December , to an unidentified correspondent; yellowing, small marginal tears skillfully repaired.
Pasteur on age or youth influencing the results of vaccination.
Pasteur writes in full: I do not believe at all that age or youth influences the results of vaccination. If accidents occurred during the night of the vacination, whatever the age of the individual, it was the resultof impure vaccine or due to a wrongly performed procedure.
Autograph letter signed (“L. Pasteur”), in French, 1 page (3.37 x 4.5 in.; 86 x 114 mm.), [Paris] 9 July 1886, on his personalized note card 45 Rue d’Ulm to an unidentified gentleman; browned, repair to vertical fold.
Pasteur firmly states the law on handling rabid dogs.
The French chemist writes in full: The law is strict: any dog that was bit or in contact with a rabid animal must be killed. Even if I vaccinated them I could not return them to you alive.
Letter signed (“L. Pasteur”), with date, the word “Confidential” and the opening salutation “Dear Doctor” at head of first page in Pasteur’s hand, in French, 3 pages, (7 x 4.5 in.; 178 x 114 mm.), Paris, 9 May 1887, on stationery imprinted with his monogram, to an unidentified doctor; repair to horizontal folds, small marginal tears at foot of pages not affecting text.
Pasteur lambasts another scientist’s work on rabies.
Pasteur writes in full: I would be much obliged to you if you could have the letter enclosed herewith given to Representative Wiedersperg, in relation to the motion he just presented to the Austrian Parliament and that was so successful, as it should have been. I also know that it was put together with you in mind. I have just received from Dr. Von Frisch the pamphlet containing the sum of his experiments with rabies, a document I have been anxiously awaiting in order to respond to the 16 proposals that appeared in The Medical Week of December 30. What a disappointment! Frisch’s pamphlet is so faulty that I will not engage in criticizing it. His experiments and arguments are not worthy of any attention. I will only talk about it if authorized people think it important, no doubt out of ignorance of the issue. That doctor surely deceived me! Since his coming by my laboratory, I had been inclined to consider him an impartial scientist, well versed in experimental practices. I feel disillusioned and, to be brief, I will only give you one justification: he finds Benzi and Amozzo’s experiments and their consequences to be good, only too happy to note that they coincide with his own. And when I contradict him with my own positive results and call his negative, he denies me the right to judge his work, and claims that his results are positive. No discussion is possible with a man whose reasoning lacks scientific logic.
Pasteur’s own rabies experiments had indeed been successful. In April 1882, he undertook research that proved to be the most spectacular of all-the preventive treatment of rabies. After experimenting with inoculations of saliva from infected animals, he came to the conclusion that the virus was also present in the nerve centers, and he demonstrated that a portion of the medulla oblongata of a rabid dog, when injected into the body of a healthy animal, produced symptoms of rabies. By further work on the dried tissues of infected animals and the effect of time and temperature on these tissues, he was able to obtain a weakened form of the virus that could be used for inoculation. Having detected the rabies virus by its effects on the nervous system and attenuated its virulence, he applied his procedure to man; on 6 July 1885, he saved the life of a nine-year-old boy, Joseph Meister, who had been bitten by a rabid dog. The experiment was an outstanding success, opening the road to protection from a terrible disease.
Lengthy autograph endorsement and a note signed (‘L. P.”) on a letter from Dr. G. Rauch, a naval doctor, to Pasteur, in French 3 pages (10.5 x 8.25 in.; 267 x 210 mm.), Lisbon, 8 September 1888; small marginal split to center horizontal fold.
A most gracious reply to the request of a naval doctor to visit the Pasteur Institute.
In the present letter, Dr. Rauch requests permission to visit Pastuer’s laboratories to examine the discoveries made by one M. Gamaleia in hopes of making a contribution to his work and that of Pasteur. Rauch explains he has had extensive experience with diseases in warm countries, citing two cholera epidemics in Toulon and Algeria and proceeds to list his medical qualifications. He notes he would particularly like to participate in M. Gamaleia’s experiments in the endemic field and feels confident that the Minister of the Navy will release him to do so, if accepted. At the foot of the third page of the letter, Pasteur replies in full from Arbois on 12 September 1888: Honored Sir and Doctor, As soon as Monsieur Gamaleia has returned to Paris I will hasten to communicate your interesting letter to him. The latter is dated from Lisbon––are you returning on the Brest route, and when? Would you be able to come and see me on your way to Paris where I would perhaps have already returned? We could talk without too much inconvenience to you, about your wishes. Yours truly, L. P. A further note in Pasteur’s hand is found at the head of the first page of the letter: “To be shown to M. Gamaleia as soon as he arrives. L. P. 12 September 1888.
A fine letter demonstrating Pasteur’s great willingness for collaboration between doctors and scientists.
Letter signed (“L. Pasteur”), in French, 2 pages (6.75 x 4.25 in.; 171 x 108 mm.), Paris, 4 February 1892, to an identified colleague, on his personalized stationery; four punctures at left margin not affecting text.
A kind and understanding Pasteur on the vaccination of dogs.
Pasteur wries in full: We do not vaccinate dogs because it would create too much congestion and our kennels would not be big enough to take them all in. The law is definite: Any dog bitten by a dog either rabid or suspected of being rabid must be put down. However I find it very hard to give you a negative answer if the dog belongs to you and you want to keep it. If this is the case, send your dog to the Institute Pasteur tomorrow and it will be vaccinated during the following three weeks.
An important letter in which Pasteur quotes the law on rabid dogs but shows a softer side when it comes to saving a beloved pet.
$15,000 - $25,000