Weigel, Christian Ehrenfried

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b. Stralsund, Germany, 24 May 1748; d. Greifswald, Germany, 8 August 1831), chemistry.

After receiving instruction from his father, Dr. Bernhard Nicolaus weigel (inventor of Weigel’s medicinal drops) and attending a private school in Stralsund, young Weigel entered the University of Greifswald in 1764. He studied medicine and the natural sciences there for five years, then proceeded to the University of Göttingen, where for the next two years he worked closely with the botanist J. A. Murray, the chemist R. A. Vogel, and the technologist J. Beckmann, Weigel also visited the Harz mining district to collect minerals and to observe metallurgical techniques. In 1771 he took his M.D. at Gö,l;ttingen with a chemical-mineralogical dissertation.

Weigel then returned to Stralsund, where he practiced medicine and continued his chemical research in his father’s laboratory. In 1772 he became an adjunct lecturer and supervisor of the botanical garden at the University of Greifswald; and two years later he was appointed to a new chair of chemistry and pharmacy in the medical faculty of the university. Besides holding this post for the rest of his life, he continued to urn the botanical garden until 1781, served on the medical board for Pomerania and Rügen from 1780 to 1806, and directed the chemical institute of the university from 1796 until his death. In 1806 he was ennobled by Emperor Francis II.

Weigel did almost all of his important work during the 1770’s and 1780’s. In his dissertation he argued at length for J. F. Meyer’s pinguic acid theory and published the first diagram of a counter-current condenser. Weigel’s two-volume Grundriss der reinen und angewandten Chemie (1777) was one of the first German chemistry texts to be directed beyond a medical audience to readers of all classes. In it he first dealt with pure chemistry and then with applications of chemistry in natural philosophy, natural history, medicine, and especially in agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. Weigel also did much to keep German chemists abreast of foreign developments with his translations of works by Wallerius (1776-1780); Guyton de Morveau, Maret, and Durande (1777-1778); H. T. Scheffer (1779); G. v. Engeström (1782); and Lavoisier (1783-1785).


The most complete list of Weigel’s publications is in Fritz Ferchl, ed., Chemisch-Pharmazuetisches Bio-und Bibliographikon (Mittenwald, 1937), 571–572.

On Weigel’s life and work, see Neuer Nekrolog der Deutschen, 9 (1831), 699–705; O. Anselmino, “Nachrichten von früherer Lehrern der Chemie an der Universität Greifswald,” in Mitteliungen des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins für New-Vorpommern und Rugen in Greifswald, 38 (1906), 117–103; G. A. Fester, “Zur Geschichte des Gegenstromkühlers.” in Sudhoffs Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften,45 (1961), 341–350; J. R. Partington,A History of Chemistry, III (London, 1962), 148. 175, 372, 521, 94–595, 609; and Johannes Valentin, “Die Entwicklung der pharmazeutischen Chemie an der Ernst Moiritz Arndt-Universitat in Greifswald,” in Festschrift zur 500-Jahrfeier der Universität Greifswald, II (Greifswald, 1956), 472–475.

Karl Hufbauer