Lot 206: Louis Pasteur

RR Auction

2015-07-07 11:00:17

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Lot 206: Autograph notes in French, signed three times, twice "L. Pasteur" and once "L. P.," penned in the margins of a letter written to him by Henri de Marliave, one page both sides, 8.5 x 10.5, July 21, 1888. Marliave's letter, in part (translated): "In some regions of France and mainly in the South, there is much mushroom consumption in the spring and fall of each year. The fungus, as you know, is very nutritious, and does no harm when used in moderation…It is not, unfortunately, once it loses its first freshness. It becomes a real poison and can cause real poisonings that are often fatal. In general, the mushrooms entering the market after traveling for a longer or shorter time are losing their first freshness; they decompose and provide a real danger to public health when they reach their destination. Several merchants of Toulouse have asked me to speak to you to ask if you would inform us if there is a way to prevent fermentation and decomposition of mushrooms for the two or three days that generally exist between harvest and sale. If the means exist, to be effective it must meet the following conditions: 1. Being inexpensive 2. Keep whole mushrooms with the stem or at least a part of the stem 3. Leave no traces on mushroom which must appear almost as fresh as when it was picked." Pasteur's response, in part (translated): "I answer that the problem should be easy to solve, you are very well placed to attempt a solution…Many ideas come to mind. Would you try immediately dipping fresh mushrooms in a 2% boric acid solution and placing them in a box during the trip…This is harmless and another washing could be recommended upon arrival and then a new soaking in water before consumption." In fine condition, with central vertical and horizontal folds and show-through from writing to opposing sides. Pasteur's most famous experiments involved the fermentation of yeasts, which, like mushrooms, are classified in the kingdom Fungi. He was also an advocate for the use of boric acid as an antiseptic and treatment for infections. Combining his knowledge in both of these fields, he was able to recommend a solution to this potentially deadly issue of mushroom toxicity. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 456 Wednesday, 15th July 2015 Estimate: $2000-3000
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