Patrick Pollak

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WALDIE, David.
Two photographs : a studio portrait and a carte-de-visite.

CABINET PORTRAIT : Image size - c.14.5 x 10 cms. It has been trimmed top and bottom thus losing a sliver of the photograph at the top [not affecting the image] and most of the photographer's imprint at the bottom. Enough remains of the latter to enable the identification of either JOHN or FRANK PELHAM MOFFAT, 125 Princes Street, Edinburgh, who were working there from 1873-1926 [John] and 1875-1888 & 1895-1912 [Frank]. It is a fine image in excellent condition. CARTE-DE-VISITE : Image size - c.7.5 x 5.5 cms. The photographer is P[ETER]. DEVINE, 101b Princes Street, Edinburgh, working there 1861-1877. Devine's imprint is on the reverse of the carte; there is also an early signature, 'D. Waldie', probably Waldie's own, plus a brief biographical note by ISABEL ROSS. Waldie is shown holding an open book, sadly unidentifiable. The photograph is slightly faded but otherwise in excellent condition.


*DAVID WALDIE, 1813-1889, born in Linlithgow, died in Kolkata [Calcutta]. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, qualifying in 1831 when he returned to Linlithgow, practising as surgeon and apothecary. In 1839 or 1840 he gave up medicine and moved to Liverpool, where he took the post of Chemist to the Apothecaries' Company of Liverpool. Waldie came across chloroform in its then known form, 'chloric ether', first introduced into Britain, in Liverpool, from America in 1838-39. The make-up of the ether appeared to Waldie to be inconsistent and he therefore developed the process of purifying and standardising chloroform. He was thus familiar and knowledgeable about its properties and on a return to Scotland, and in a meeting and discussion with James Young Simpson in 1847, he was able to recommend chloroform as an anaesthetic. Simpson was very favourably impressed, experimented with it on himself, family and friends immediately and began regular use thereafter in managing pain in childbirth. In that year, 1847, Simpson published his 'Account of a new anaesthetic agent as a substitute for sulphuric ether in surgery and midwifery', Edinburgh, 1847. He acknowledged Waldie's introduction to him in a footnote but from then on, Waldie and his family and friends, always felt that he had not been sufficiently recognised for his part in the introduction of this novel agent into anaesthetics. He elaborated this opinion in his pamphlet of 1870 - 'The true story of the introduction of chloroform into anaesthetics'. Inevitably, this became and remains a controversial issue - for example, Duncum in her 'Development of Inhalation Anaesthesia', pp. 166-178, gives an extensive account of what happened and notes that John Snow in 1858, stated 'Mr Waldie of Liverpool, had a greater share in the introduction of chloroform than Dr. Jackson had in the introduction of ether....'. She writes that even if Simpson had not been particularly generous with his thanks, others had given Waldie credit and speculates that as Waldie had moved to India in 1858, he had been out of touch with the literature. As contra to this, the paper by RAY DEFALQUE and AMOS WRIGHT in Anesthesiology 2011, 114, makes a case for Waldie's role to be less than often quoted [see 'The Discovery of Chloroform : Has David Waldie's role been exaggerated?']. Nonetheless, Waldie was and remains a central figure in this major historical development and images of him are very scarce. Duncum illustrates a commemorative plaque but doesn't record its location. There are no portraits of him in the London National Portrait Gallery, nor in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Liverpool Medical Institution has his archive and lists photographs among the contents, though there is no indication as to what these are. His more solid legacy, however, remains in India to this day - he had emigrated to India to take up a post as Chemist for a chemical works, Malcolm & Co, of Calcutta. Around 1860 he established his own chemical works at Barnagore, Calcutta and in 1874 the company (D. Waldie & Co) was relocated to Kasipur, West Bengal. It specialised in the production of pigments, especially lead oxides and after various amalgamations is still in operation today.

Date Published:

Stock No. 64155

Price: 800.00