Die Bemühungen Carl Schmidts um eine Allianz von chemischer Hochschulwissenschaft und Privatindustrie im Baltikum


R. Stefan Roß



Abstract. The Alliance of Science and the Baltic Industry – Carl Schmidt (1822–1894) as a “Consulting Chemist”. In the 18th and 19th century, university-based chemistry had been successfully connected with the mercantile system and this relationship was particularly close in France, Germany, and England. In many other European countries, including Russia and the Baltics, however, this “alliance” was not yet established at that time. At the University of Tartu (Dorpat), since 1852 Carl Schmidt (1822–1894) was professor of chemistry and head of the chemical laboratory. When he visited England in 1857, he was enormously impressed by the contemporary industry in general and the Royal College of Chemistry in London as well as the concept of the so-called “consulting chemists” in particular. After his return to Tartu (Dorpat), he therefore announced the chemical laboratory open for farmers, trading-houses and other enterprises who might want him to perform chemical analyses in order to promote the local industry and, hence, the wealth of the whole country. The compensation for his expertise on a case-to-case basis should range between 5 and 25 Roubels. The administration of the university, however, did not accept Schmidt’s suggestions because the officials were afraid that an insoluble conflict could arise between the exclusive scientific orientation of the chemical laboratory and those contacts to the chemical industry Schmidt planned to establish. Three years later, in 1861, Schmidt started a second attempt to work as a kind of “consulting chemist” further on. He stated that his project to use the chemical laboratory of the university for remunerated private analyses would undoubtedly lead to an opening of the university towards external organisations and enterprises and therefore should be considered as a matter of general interest. Furthermore, the budget of the university laboratory would not be affected at all by his activities. Although the representatives of the university still denied the public utility of Schmidt’s proposals, the responsible curator, Georg Friedrich von Bradke (1796–1862), finally approved his intention to establish a closer “alliance” between scientific chemistry and the then private industry of the Baltic Sea region.


Keywords: history of chemistry, history of economy of the Baltic states, history of Tartu University