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Wenzel, Karl Friedrich

WENZEL, KARL FRIEDRICH (1740-1793), German metallurgist, was born at Dresden in 1740. Disliking his father's trade of bookbinding, for which he was intended, he left home in 1755, and after taking lessons in surgery and chemistry at Amsterdam, became a ship's surgeon in the Dutch service. In 1766, tired of sea-life, he went to study chemistry at Leipzig, and afterwards devoted himself to metallurgy and assaying at his native place with such success that in 1 780 he was appointed chemist to the Freiberg foundries by the elector of Saxony. In 1785 he became assessor to the superintending board of the foundries, and in 1786 chemist to th,e porcelain works at Meissen. He died at Freiberg on the 26th of February 1793.

In consequence of the quantitative analyses he performed of a large number of salts, he has been credited with the discovery of the law of neutralization ( Vorlesungen tiber die chemische Verwandtschaft der Korper, 1777). But this attribution rests on a mistake first made by J. J. Berzelius and copied by subsequent writers, and Wenzel's published work (as pointed out by G. H. Hess in 1840) does not warrant the conclusion that he realized the existence of any law of invariable and reciprocal proportions in the combinations of acids and bases.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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