Prof. J. Lawrence Smith kindly sends the following very interesting item translated from the Bericht. Deut. Chem. Gesell., December, 1870:
"The first artificial production of a Vegetable Alkaloid (Coniin) by Hugo Schiff. This alkaloid has been heretofore only known as the product of the plant. For some months he has been engaged in examining the reaction of ammonia and the aminbases on aldehyde, and one of the products then discovered was butyric aldehyde. Latterly he has been examining the reaction of an alcoholic solution of ammonia in this butyric aldehyde at a temperature of 212° Fahr., and from this he obtained two bases, which he calls Tetrabutyraldin and Dibutyraldin. By heating this last until it distills, the first product is a neutral oily substance; and the substance which comes over last is a strong alkaline base that proved to be coniin, having the poisonous and other physiological properties of the natural coniin. The amount produced is yet small and costly; but the history of chemistry shows that the demand for its products is the greatest stimulant to increased production and cheapening cost. In this is to be seen a decided step toward the artificial production of morphine, quinine, etc.—American Practitioner, March, 1871.