The Discovery of Caffeine

Neueste Phytochemische Entdeckungen zur Begründung einer wissenschaftlichen Phytochemie.

Three lithographed folding tables in Vol. I; four folding engraved plates & one folding printed table in Vol. II. 1 p.l., xvii, [1], 204 pp.; 1 p.l., xxiii, [1], 264 pp. Two vols. in one. 8vo, cont. paste-paper boards (a bit worn), green & red leather lettering pieces on spine. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1820-21.

First edition of the author’s first major work, preceded only by his medical dissertation on belladonna, which appeared in 1819. The Neueste Phytochemische Entdeckungen… contains — on pages 144-59 of Vol. I — the earliest identification of caffeine (Kaffebase). The coffee beans used in Runge’s laboratory experiments were given to him by Goethe. These beans had been sent to the poet by a Greek as a delicacy. Runge was also one of the first scientists to isolate quinine from cinchona bark. His experiments on cinchona bark and his isolation of quinine are first described in Vol. I, pages 160-71.

Runge (1795-1867), the co-discoverer of aniline dyes in coal tar, was associate professor in Breslau and later in the Prussian Marine service in Berlin and Oranienburg. “In 1831 Runge moved to Berlin and was offered a position as a chemist in a chemical factory at Oranienburg owned by the Royal Maritime Society. In this industrial laboratory he carried out his important study of synthetic dyes. Through the distillation of coal tar and subsequent extraction of the fractions, Runge isolated and named carbolic acid (phenol), leucol (a mixture of quinoline, isoquinoline, and quinaldine), pyrrol, and cyanol (aniline). He also produced aniline black from cyanol, noted its value as a dye, and obtained a patent in 1834.”–D.S.B., XI, p. 615.

Runge isolated the alkaloids in belladonna — atropine and scopolamine — and discovered they could be used to dilate the eyes of animals and humans. These were first described in his medical dissertation of 1819 and, in the present work, are more fully reported on pages 120-32 of the first volume. Scopolamine is the active ingredient in some motion-sickness drugs, and atropine is still used to dilate patients’ pupils during eye exams as well as to slow heart rates during surgeries.

Very good copy of a scarce book.

❧ Hein & Schwarz, Deutsche Apotheker-Biographie, Vol. II, pp. 548-49–“R[unge], der ein sehr vielseitiger Chemiker war, hat sich in erster Linie mit der Chemie des Steinkohlenteers befasst und wurde somit zum Begründer der Steinkohlenteerchemie.” Partington, IV, pp. 183-84. Poggendorff, II, 721-22.

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 7631