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Bucholz, Christian Friedrich

Bucholz, Christian Friedrich

(b. Eisleben, Germany, 19 September 1770; d. Erfurt, Germany, 9 June 1818)

chemistry, pharmacy.

Bucholz’s father, an obscure apothecary, died in 1775, leaving his five-year-old son the heir to a pharmacy. Two years later the boy’s mother married an eminent Erfurt pharmacist named Voigt. At a very early age, Bucholz showed a talent and liking for chemical research, and under the tutelage of his stepfather and his uncle, the pharmaceutical chemist W.H.S. Bucholz, he rapidly acquired the background and training necessary to his chosen profession. In 1784 he was sent to Kassel as apprentice to the pharmacist Karl Wilhelm Fiedler. There he not only learned his professional duties but also taught himself languages and natural science. Bucholz left Kassel in 1789 and went to Ochsenfurt, Franconia, where for two years he worked as an apothecary’s assistant; he then moved to Mulhouse, where for three years he was an associate in an apothecary. Here he completed his first publication, a paper on the crystallization of barium acetate, in 1794. Toward the end of 1794 he returned to Erfurt and took over the pharmacy he had inherited from his father. The following year, he married and began raising a family.

Bucholz’s researches in chemistry were primarily of an analytical nature. Altogether, he published over a hundred articles in German chemical and pharmaceutical journals, including Scherer’s Neues allgemeines Journal der Chemie, Trommsdorff’s Journal der Pharmacie, Gehlen’s Journal für die Chemie und Physik (of which he was, after 1804, one of the editors), and Schweigger’s Journal für Chemie. Some of his more important papers were translated into French (primarily for the Annales de chimie and the Journal des mines) and English (especially for Nicholson’s Journal). In addition, he published several books on chemistry and pharmacy.

Bucholz made a few important, but no primary, contributions to chemistry. He investigated in detail some of the more obscure compounds of sulfur. He made extensive analyses of the salts of molybdenum, tungsten, and tin, and he extracted uranium compounds from pitchblende. Bucholz distinguished strontium and barium oxides from the hydroxides of those metals by showing that the former were infusable whereas the latter were not. He investigated methods for the separation of copper and silver, iron and manganese, nickel and cobalt, and magnesium and calcium. He also carried out numerous mineral analyses and investigated several organic compounds, including camphoric acid, which he identified.

In 1808 Bucholz received the doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Rinteln, and in 1809 the University of Erfurt awarded him a Ph.D. and a position as Assessor (assistant) at its College of Medicine. In the following year, he was made a professor at the University of Erfurt and was given a place on the Faculty of Philosophy. He became privy councillor in the tiny principality of Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen in 1815. Bucholz was also active in the attempt to improve the lot of his fellow pharmacists. He cooperated with F. A. C. Gren in the establishment of an institution for retired pharmacists, and with J. B. Trommsdorff he founded an apothecaries’ syndicate.

Bucholz’s health began to fail about 1813. During the occupation of Erfurt by the French in 1813, he was cruelly imprisoned with about thirty of his fellow citizens and held for ransom. As a result, he suffered further illnesses and, finally, total blindness. In his final years he was able to publish only with the aid of his student Rudolph Brandes. Since Bucholz made no signal contribution to his field, his reputation, which had been founded on a large number of exacting analytical researches, did not survive long after him.


I. Original Works. Two of Bucholz’s books are Beiträge zur Erweiterung und Berichtigung der Chemie, 3 vols. (Erfurt, 1799–1802); and Grundriss der Pharmacie mit vorzüglicher Hinsicht auf die pharmaceutische Chemie (Erfurt, 1802). See list in Schreger article (below).

II. Secondary Literature. A detailed and heavily footnoted life of Bucholz, containing references to works not cited in the usual sources, is T. Schreger, in J.G. Ersch and J.G. Gruber, eds., Allgemeine Encyclopādie der Wissenschaften und Künste, XIII (Leipzig, 1824), 303–305. See also Poggendorff, I, 330; and J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, III (London, 1962), 581–582.

J. B. Gough

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