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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sal volatile

Only two customers are recorded as having bought all three salts. Carbonate of ammonia is very rarely mentioned at all in the records. Under the name of 'sal volatile' it is probably the best known of the ammonia salts to the ordinary public, but the nineteenth century gas companies do not seem to have recorded its' sale to the surrounding chemical industry. Perhaps it was so well known that there was no need to record anything about it or perhaps the chemical manufactures made it themselves and thus didn't want it. It may also be that it was used in very small amounts and thus not worth buying from the gas companies.

Only two other buyers for carbonate of ammonia have been identified. Both of them bought it in combination with sal ammoniac.

Thomas Crow, the West Ham based ammonia manufacturer who will be described in detail in a future chapter.

Mr. Huskisson, who was one of the most prominent London makers of fine chemicals. He was based in Clerkenwell. Samuel Huskisson had gone into business around 1768 and became associated with Tower & Co, of Warner Street off Saffron Hill. Correspondence with Boulton and Watt in 1802 might imply that the company was large enough to consider a steam engine. John Huskisson had works at Haggerston and Smith Street, Clerkenwell, in 1824. He was also involved in property development in the Barnsbury area of Islington. Henry Huskisson was for many years based at Swinton Works in Swinton Street, just south of Kings Cross as well as in the Grays Inn Road. John and Henry Huskisson exhibited ammonia salts 'for use in pharmacy' at the 1851 Great Exhibition. The company eventually moved to Telford as F.L. Cox.

Thus only four purchasers of carbonate of ammonia have been noted in the minute books. Three were major chemical manufacturers. The other was in a closely related trade.

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