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177   Louis Pasteur  $300 $440 $484 5 You must login to place a bid.

#177 - Louis Pasteur

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Investigating the disease-stricken French silkworm population, Pasteur finds success with native eggs “prepared according to my directions”


ALS in French, signed “L. Pasteur,” one page both sides, 5.25 x 8, Ecole Normale Supérieure letterhead, September 7, 1867. Letter to Italian scientist M. Salimbeni whose brochure entitled ‘Le microscope employe a prévenir et déterminer La maladie des vers a soie’ (The Microscope Used to Study and Determine Silkworm Disease) was presented by Pasteur to the Academy of Sciences on October 19, 1868. In full (translated): “I am sending you…a copy of the succinct report which I sent to the Minister of Agriculture. Its chief purpose is to point out the existence of quite notable quantities of silkworm eggs of our own native species, prepared according to my directions and in conditions which seem best to me for producing healthy silkworm eggs. You will especially note Mr. Raybaud-Lange’s very important method for the production of silkworm eggs.

You inform me, Sir, that you plan to process silkworm eggs according to my system. If you have already put this into practice I would be pleased to know the results you’ll have next year. In case you don’t have silkworm eggs prepared in accordance with my system, I urge you to get some from M. Raybaud-Lange from a portion of one of the lots that I have examined so that a report can be drawn up on their progress next year, at your agricultural society, for example.

I have just received Grimelli’s work [Geminéano Grimelli’s: ‘La maladie des vers d soie’ (Silkworm Disease), 1867] but haven’t yet read it. With reference to the work you tell me about and of which you are the author, I can’t find it either among my papers or in the papers I left behind at Alais, nor among those which I found in Paris July 1 upon my return.” In fine condition, with some light show-through from writing on opposite sides.

Beginning in 1855, a widespread epidemic among silkworms nearly brought the French silk industry to ruin. As the crisis reached its peak in 1865, Pasteur—then serving as the professor of geology, physics, and chemistry at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris—was asked by the Department of Agriculture to head a commission to investigate the devastating disease infecting the worms. Within five years, he had determined that temperature, humidity, ventilation, quality of the food, sanitation and adequate separation of the broods of newly hatched worms all played a role in susceptibility to the disease, and was able to create new methods of breeding that would preserve healthy eggs and prevent contamination. In his report to the Minister of Agriculture, Forcade La Roquette, a copy of which was sent to Salimbeni along with this letter, Pasteur outlined those methods and conditions. “You plan to process silkworm eggs according to my system,” writes Pasteur, encouraging his fellow scientist to keep him informed of his progress: “If you have already put this into practice I would be pleased to know the results you’ll have next year.” An important topic in Pasteur’s career, his research with the silkworms helped shape his future concepts on the influence of environment on contagion, leading to his most significant contributions in the study of causes and prevention of disease. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.

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