Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1837. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING OF SCHWANN’S SEMINAL WORK ON PUTREFACTION AND FERMENTATION, HERE PROVING THAT PUTREFACTION IS PRODUCED BY LIVING BODIES” (Garrison & Morton, 674). Full volume. With this work, Schwann “proved categorically that alcoholic fermentation was the result of a living organism, not an inanimate chemical mass” (Hornsey, A History, 409) Independently of Cagniard-Latour, Schwann discovered the yeast cell” (GM 674). At the time, the prevailing theory was that fermentation was caused by oxidation and Schwann’s discovery that alcoholic fermentation and the fermentation that causes putrefaction were carried out by microbes was ignored and even ridiculed at the time. “Today, he is regarded as the founder of the germ theory of putrefaction and fermentation" (ibid).
Theodor Schwann (1810-1882) was a German anatomist and physiologist; his mentor was Johannes Múller, often regarded as the father of experimental physiology. In the 1930s, Schwann began to experiment on infusoria and fermentation, by 1936 becoming convinced that alcoholic fermentation was caused by a living being. "Schwann was lead to the idea that alcoholic fermentation was related to the metabolism of yeast by his conception that putrefaction was related to the metabolism of live organisms."(DSB XII, p. 242).
“According to Schwann’s experiments, solutions of cane sugar to which yeast had been added, and then boiled, fermented only when atmospheric air was passed through them but, contrary to Gay-Lussac’s theory, not when heated air was used. Schwann also observed budding, and the formation of ‘several cells within one cell’, what we now know as sporulation. The presence of a living organism during fermentation was confirmed by microscopical work, and Schwann was able to describe the morphology of yeast” (Hornsey, A History, 409).
Schwann’s experiments led him to conclude “that the processes of putrefaction and fermentation were probably similar in their essence and were due to live agents which obtained their sustenance from the fermentible or putrescible materials. [During the course of these] experiments, Schwann [also] discovered and gave an accurate acount of the yeast plant and its mode of reproducing by budding. In his paper (the paper offered here) he anticipated Pasteur's work when he asserted that fermentation of sugar was a chemical decomposition brought about by yeast attacking the sugar and some nitrogen containing substance necessary for its life whereby the elements not used by yeast itself unite to form alcohol” (Bulloch "The History of Bacteriology", pp. 86-87). Item #755
CONDITION & DETAILS: Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth. Full volume. 8vo. Ex-libris bearing three small stamps (half-title, title, and contents page); as well, a perforated stamp on the title page. There are no spinal markings. Tightly and solidly rebound in brown cloth over marbled paper boards; new endpapers. Gilt-lettered at the spine. Three plates. Very slight toning within; largely bright and clean throughout. Near fine condition.