Tiemann, Johann Carl Wilhelm Ferdinand

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(b. Rübeland, Germany, 10 June 1848; d Meran, Austria [now Merano, Italy], 14 November 1899)


The son of William and Auguste Tiemann, Ferdinand Tiemann is primarily remembered for the synthesis of phenolic aldehydes, known as the Reimer-Tiemann reaction. He studied chemistry and pharmacy in Brunswick at the Collegium Carolinum (now known as the Technische Hochschule); briefly assisted his uncle, Carl Tiemann, a pharmacist; and entered the University of Berlin in 1870 to study chemistry under A.W. von Hofmann. Bertha Tiemann, the younger of his two sisters, married Hofmann in 1877. After serving in the Franco-Prussian War, he spent the rest of his life in the department at Berlin, where he became assistant in 1871, university lecturer in 1878, and professor in 1882. He was editor of the Berichte der Deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft from 1882 to 1897.

In 1870 Tiemann published the results of his earliest research on the derivatives of guanidine, trinitrotoluene, and diaminotoluence, and on the synthesis of dinitro-and trinitrobenzoic acids. In 1873 he began the first of many investigations on the purification and analysis of water. Tiemann and Wilhelm Haarmann obtained vanillin from the acid oxidation of conifer glucosides in 1874. During the next year they established the configuration of vanillin, and Tiemann synthesized if trom protocatchuic acid. By heating guaicavol with cholroform and acqueous sodium hydroxide, Karl Ludwig Reimer obtained vanillin in1876; and later that year he and Tiemann extended the reaction as a general method for synthesizing phenolic aldehydes. In 1891 Tiemann discovered the commercial method of preparing vanillin for eugenol (contained in oil of cloves) by the successive processes of rearrangement, acetylation, and oxidation of the side chain followed by hydrolysis. His other work included the synthesis of caffeic acid, the discovery of lone (kettones that have a strong odor of ciolets and are used especially in perfumes), elucidation of the structure of glucosamnie, and extensive investigations of terpenes.

Tiemann enjoyed the reputation of being a fine teacher and a popular lecturer. With his students he published many papers on hydroxyaldehydes and related compounds. Failing health forced him to spend the winter of 1899 in the South Tirol, where he died of a heart attack, leaving a widow and three children.


Some of Tiemann’s contributions were first reported in the following papers: “Neue Guanidin-Abkömmlinge,” in Berichte der Deutschen chemishen Gesellschaft, 3 (1870), 6; “Abkömmlinge des Trintrotoluols und des Toluylendiamins,” ibid., p. 217; “Di-und trinitrirte Benzoesäuren,” ibid., p.223, written with W. Judson; “Ueber das coniferin und sein Umwandlug in das aromatische Prinzip der Vanille,” ibid., 7 (1874), 608, wirtten with W. Haarmann; “Ueber eine synthetische Bildungsweise des Vanillins, über Hydrovanillon und Vanillylalkohol,” ibid., 8 (1875), 1123; “Ueber die Einwirkung von Chloroform auf alkalisiche Phenolate,” ibid., 9 (1876), 824, written with K. L. Reimer; and “Ueber die Einwirkung von Choloroform auf Phenole und besonders aromatische Oxysäuren in alkalischer Lösung,” ibid., 9 (1876), 1268, written with K. L. Reimer.

See also “Synthese der Kaffeesäure, Abkömmlinge derselben und der Hydrokaffeesäure,” ibid.,11 (1878), 646, written with N. Nagai; “Ueber Vanillin,” ibid., 24 (1891), 2870; “Ueber Veilchenaroma,” ibid., 26 (1893), 2675, written with P. Krüger; and Ueber das Glucosamin,” ibid., 27 (1894), 138, written with E. Fischer.

For a short biography, a review of his research, and a complete list of his publications, see Otto N. Witt, “Ferdinand Tiemann. Ein Lebensbild,” in Berichte der Deutschen chemischen Gesellscaft, 34 (1901), 4403–4455.

A. Albert Baker, Jr.