Publisher Information: London: 1847.
Taylor, Alfred Swaine (1806-80). Experiments on Professor Liebig’s new test for prussic acid, with remarks on its application in medical jurisprudence. Galley proofs, with autograph corrections, of Taylor’s article published in The London Medical Gazette, n.s., 4 (1847): 765-770. [London, 1847.] Single broadsheet, printed on recto only. 448 x 567 mm. Some rodent damage along central fold affecting a few lines of text, but very good. Docketed.
Taylor was the founder of forensic toxicology and the leading medical jurist in England in the mid-nineteenth century. He held the professorship post of medical jurisprudence at Guy’s Hospital from 1831 until 1877 and was the author of several other works on forensic medicine, including Elements of Medical Jurisprudence (1836; Garrison-Morton.com 1738) and On Poisons in Relation to Medical Jurisprudence and Medicine (1848; Garrison-Morton 10729). He appeared as an expert witness in several famous criminal trials—including that of William Palmer, the notorious “Rugeley Poisoner”—and served as the model for R. Austin Freeman’s fictional detective, Dr. Thorndyke.
The German chemist Justus Liebig had recently come up with a new test for detecting the presence of hydrocyanic acid (HCN)—sometimes called “prussic acid” as it was first isolated from Prussian blue pigment. Liebig’s test could detect HCN in solution even at extremely low levels but, as Taylor noted here, it was useless as a forensic tool because it “presupposes that the experimentalist has the prussic acid in a free and pure condition,” whereas in medicolegal practice “the poison, as we know, is liable to be mixed up with mucus, blood, articles of food and other matters.” Taylor’s article also discusses his own test for detecting HCN “by the hydrosulphuret of ammonia,” and reports its results in a variety of tests, including one using the stomach contents of a suspected poisoning victim. The galleys of Taylor’s article contain several corrections in his hand as well as an autograph note that was not included in the final text.Book Id: 46192