Re: Anniversary - formaldehyde, zinc and more

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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On Wed, 28 Oct 1998, RUSS ALLISON wrote:

> I just found out formadehyde was - invented? - discovered? in 1859
> and produced industrially in 1889 and reported as a fixative in 1893.

   For an interesting reflection of things that were to come,
   get your library to exhume Transactions of the American
   Microscopical Society, Vol. 17 (1895). On pp 319-330 there's
   a paper by one Pierre Fish called "The use of formalin in
   neurology." No, not as a panacea for all disorders of the
   brain, but as a fixative (with due acknowledgement to its
   original introduction a couple of years before).

   Fish tried several mixtures, and ended up with a zinc chloride
   and formaldehyde mixture as his best effort. (It contained
   more zinc and less formaldehyde than currently fashionable
   similar mixtures. It was unbuffered but did contain some
   sodium chloride.) In addition, Fish recommended post-fixation
   in a variety of solutions (mercuric chloride, dichromate,
   picric acid etc), and also used his fixative in conjunction
   with various Golgi impregnations. Some of these procedures
   anticipated their later rediscovery by 50 to 80 years.

   As one of my mentors told me long ago: It's all been done
   before if you read the literature.
                                       John Kiernan
                                       London, Canada.

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