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Minutes of the Pharmaceutical Meetings.


The Pharmaceutical meetings were again resumed, after several years' intermission, on the 18th of October, 1870. At the meeting held in the College hall this date, there were present several of their originators. Dr. W. H. Pile acted as Registrar or Secretary until there should be one elected to serve for the ensuing year. A ballot was next ordered, and Clemmons Parrish was elected to fill that position. A vote of thanks was tendered to Dr. Pile for the able manner in which he had filled the position of Registrar, also for the uniform and untiring interest he has always manifested in these meetings of the College.

Dr. Pile presented to the College accurately graduated minim and pint measures of his own making.

It was stated that the object of this meeting was more especially to consider the best mode of conducting our future gatherings, that those participating may derive the fullest benefit from them; that all may have something beside the benefit derived from social interchange of ideas. The Registrar was authorized to publish notice of meetings in the "Public Ledger," also to give a wide circulation to cards of invitation. He was also requested to invite the class now attending lectures in this hall.

The following committee was appointed to furnish a plan for conducting these meetings: Israel J. Graham, Prof. Maisch, and Dr. Pile, to report next month.

Prof. Maisch exhibited a specimen of the so-called African saffron, obtained from Chicago. Upon examination, this proved to be Carthamus, much broken and discolored. Also a sample of gum sennaar, a species of Acacia, at about two-thirds the price. This gum comes into commerce via Trieste, from a port on the Red Sea. Externally it resembles a good quality of true gum Arabic, forms a mucilage which is not so bland as that produced from true gum. This may be distinguished from the Acacia Vera by the following characters: A mucilage from true gum with Goulard's Extract produces slight opalescence. A mucilage from gum sennaar filters slowly with milkiness; the addition of aqua ammonia to the filtrate of these, in the case of true gum, in 24 hours a slight opalescence is found, whereas in the filtrate from gum sennaar with ammonia is a gelatinous mass in the same space of time.

At the meeting on November 15th, the order of business was as at meetings generally. The Committee appointed at last meeting reported the following suggestions:

1st. As it is of primary importance that a general interest should be felt or created in the attendance of these meetings, the Committee would recommend that an earnest invitation be extended to the members of the College, and all others who may desire to participate in the proceedings, to produce at each of our meetings either written or oral contributions on subjects pertaining to chemistry or pharmacy, or the commercial relations of drugs. Upon the conclusion of such communications, the presiding officer of the meeting to call for any remarks that may be elicited by the subject thus introduced.

2d. That there should be appointed annually a Standing Committee, consisting of three members, whose duty it should be to propose subjects for discussion at any of our meetings, whenever there shall be a lack of material voluntarily contributed by members.

3d. That a box or other suitable arrangement be provided for the reception of written queries, anonymous or otherwise, which members may desire to propound, relating to any subject connected with the shop or laboratory; which queries may be taken up for discussion either at the meeting in which they are proposed or at a subsequent meeting.

4th. That this Committee be requested to obtain, from time to time, the services of any who may favor the meeting with lectures suited to the occasion.

These recommendations were adopted in parts and as whole. The Committee appointed for the ensuing year was Charles Bullock, Dr. Pile, and Prof. Maisch.

Dr. Bridges exhibited a specimen of marked glass cut by a new process, in which sand is blown with great force against the glass, certain portions of which is protected by wire of different shape, or by gauze or lace, the figure of which is left on the smooth glass surface, while the meshes are etched by the attrition of the sand. Wherever the sand strikes, the impression made resembles ground glass. This process will probably supersede ground glass in many of its uses.

Dr. Pile exhibited a sample of insoluble gun cotton, made in the form of gun wad, being very explosive.

Dr. Bridges explained the principle of the spectroscope, its discovery, and the wonderful results obtained by its use. Although this species of chemical investigation is but in its infancy, the results so far obtained are marvellous, by which the minutest quantity of a substance is detected by an undeniable and never-failing color. After a very interesting exhibition of spectroscopes by the Prof., assisted by Mr. Bullock, the details of which would occupy too much space, the meeting adjourned.

At the meeting held on December 20th, among other things, Dr. Pile propounded and solved the following problems:

  1. To reduce alcohol of given strength to proof.
  2. To reduce alcohol to any required strength.
  3. To make any required quantity of either of the above.

Answer to Problem 1st.—Ascertain the percentage of the alcohol used, and to every 50 parts, by measure, add water sufficient to make the whole number of parts equal to the percentage. For example, if the alcohol be 85 per cent., then to 50 ounces add water sufficient to make 85 ounces.

Answer to Problem 2d.—To as many parts of the given alcohol as are indicated by the percentage required add sufficient water to make the number of parts of the mixture equal to the percentage of the given alcohol. For example, if it is desired to make an alcohol of 30 per cent. from an alcohol of 95 per cent., take 30 parts of the alcohol, add water sufficient to make 95 parts of the mixture.

NOTE.—In the first example we do not add to the 50 ounces of alcohol 35 ounces of water, but sufficient to make 85 ounces of the mixture. This is owing to the condensation occurring where alcohol and water are mixed.

Answer to Problem 3d.—Make the following proposition: As the percentage of the alcohol given is to that of the alcohol required, so is the quantity desired to the quantity of the alcohol to be taken; and to this quantity of alcohol water sufficient must be added to make tip the required quantity. For example, Suppose 80 ounces of alcohol, of 75 per cent., is desired to be made from 95 per cent. alcohol—as 95:75: :80. This gives 63 3-19 ounces of 95 per cent. alcohol to be taken; to this add water sufficient to make 80 ounces.

Alcohol = 89.49 per cent. by volume.
Dilute = 46. per cent. by volume.
Strong = 94.65 per cent. by volume.

Mr. Bullock exhibited a specimen or anhydrous alumina, found in large masses weighing many pounds. Specific gravity, 3.60; next to the diamond, the hardest substance in nature. Surface studded with crystals of sapphire.

Dr. Pile spoke of the following prescription as being the cause of poisoning:

Rx Strychnia Murias, gr. iss.
Syrup Ferri Iod., fℨvj.
Syrup Zingiberis, qs. ft. f℥iii. M.

Sig. Teaspoonful three times a day.

The question arose as to the cause of poisoning—whether these ingredients were incompatible. On this point, the Dr. said he had compounded the prescription, carefully dissolving the muriate of strychnia, and had kept the compound several months, without any sign of precipitation. It was supposed that in the original mixture the strychnia salt was undissolved, the last dose containing the greater part of the poison, which acted fatally.

Prof. Maisch read a paper "On the Precipitation of Quinia by Iodide of Potassium from an Acid Solution." (See Am. Journal of Pharmacy for February, 1871.) (not scanned.)

Also a paper entitled "Decomposition of Acetate of Morphia in Solution," which will also be found in Am. Journal of Pharmacy. (See page 49 of this number ) (not scanned.)

Prof. Bridges made some remarks on the vinegar plant. (actually a yeast...)

Prof. Parrish read a paper (illustrated with diagrams) upon "Petroleum, its Mode of Rectification and Refinement, together with its Commercial History." speaking of the immense use during the last few years, almost superseding other illuminating oils of commerce, and exposing some of the immense frauds practiced during the coal oil rage.

Several specimens of petroleum and its derivatives, in their different stages of refinement, were exhibited. (See Journal Franklin Institute for February, 1871.)

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).

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