LOUIS PASTEUR - AUTOGRAPH LETTER UNSIGNED 09/24/1866 - HFSID 350477
Sale Price $8,075.00
Pasteur writes to the editor of an agricultural journal on sharing his research on the prevention of diseases in wine.
Autograph Letter, unsigned, 3¼ pages, 4¼x6¾, black-bordered stationery, (conjoining leaves). Paris, 1866 September 24. On embossed stationery to F. Cazalis, manager of the "Agricultural Messenger". In French, translated. Begins: "Sir". In full: "I would be very happy if your excellent publication were willing to have your readers acquainted with the work I publish today the first copies. Whoever is the person you will direct to write this report, it is important that he speaks only after a very attentive and complete reading. You know that all the works on wines since Chaptal's treatise are little more than compilations and reproductions of that treatise which are hardly knowledgeable in the field of science. My work has on the contrary the characteristic of a memoir and contains an expose of new facts which allow me to think about wine and the vinification process in other ways than what we have done until now on several points. Please stress the limits of experimental deductions especially for those that touch to the application. For instance, for the heating process, it is necessary to have the readers observe that as far as bottled wine is concerned there is little to do for the position now in volumes of wine, have them notice that my indications are only scientific, for that I hardly could experiment on a large scale because of the expenses in equipment I would have had to incur and that here the industry must step in, that a thousand systems can be imagined but that the first thing to do is to understand the properties of wine as I explain them, which particularly boil down to the influence of air, and to the influence of parasitic vegetations. I indicate in an additional note a simple means, not proven yet; I have not tried it, I would like, (I say in this note) try it in the first place: when one deals with the process, inconveniences often occur in the least significant things, in the very same which in their simplicity appeared to be able to remove all difficulties. It is also necessary to fully understand the results we expect. Thus we want that after the heating process in barrels, the wine keeps exactly its original innate sourness and color that is to say the sourness and the color that existed before the heating process, it will be necessary to proceed so the dilatation wine comes out from the barrel through the bung-hole, by the fact of the increase of volume under the influence of the heat it should be replaced during the cooling period with some wine previously heated, which is quite easy, by a system of siphon, and even one could perhaps manage so that the wine of distillation would be the one that would reenter, in topping the barrel with a receptacle where that wine would return at the time of heating. The industry, perhaps, finds the heating done out of the barrels more advantageous. From my observations the acidification seems to me to be the only disease to fear for the wine that has been heated and that is manipulated in contact with air without precaution. I bottled some wine that had been heated in barrels. Until the present time for the diverse kinds which I tried I have not seen that any disease has developed, but by maintaining the bottles upright they take the flowers of which they have received the germ from the air, at the time of the racking or by the dust of the inside surface of the bottles or those of the corks; for never the wine heated in bottles takes any trace of flowers even when the bottles are kept upright. Moreover, for these barrels even with the draining which is natural for all barrels and which takes place for the barrels which have been heated as well as the others no trace of flowers is formed. Those from the bottles of which I just spoke take consequently their origin in the germs in suspension in the air at the time of bottling. It is therefore necessary to keep them horizontal if we want them to be free of disease. It is because the germs of the diseases other than those originating from flowers are mainly, almost exclusively in the wine itself and, when they have been killed by the heating process if that wine is exposed to the air, even without precaution, there is little chance that it will absorb these germs from the dust...." Draft of a letter to Cazalis; numerous corrections and revisions in Pasteur's hand. Slightly soiled, minor stains at blank areas. Fine condition. Framed by the Gallery of History: 40 x 21½.
French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), who investigated diseases in wine and beer, demonstrated that lactic acid, alcoholic and other fermentations were caused by minute organisms, and he further proved that those organisms did not arise by spontaneous generation. Pasteur's discovery of bacterial processes during fermentation greatly improved the economy of the wine-producing regions of France. Cultivators immediately began to heat the starting sugar solutions to high temperatures to kill the unwanted bacteria before fermenting the beverage. This process is still known today as "pasteurization".In 1868, two years after drafting this letter, Pasteur discovered bacilli causing diseases in silkworms, and he found a method of preventing the spread of diseases, saving the silk industry in France. Pasteur, who believed that diseases arose from germs attacking the body from the outside (just as unwanted microorganisms invade milk and cause fermentation) helped him to develop treatment for maladies that were, until then, thought incurable. He developed a form of vaccination that differed from Jenner's, and, in 1885, developed curative and preventive treatment for hydrophobia in humans and for rabies in dogs. Pasteur also developed a vaccine for anthrax and proved that bacteria caused tuberculosis.
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