19 December 2002
SILLIMAN, Benjamin. Report on the Rock Oil, or Petroleum, from Venango Co., Pennsylvania, with Special Reference to its Use for Illumination and Other Purposes. New Haven: J.H. Benham's Steam Power Press, 1885.
8o. 20 pages. (Some marginal dampstaining, small marginal repair and small loss on last leaf.) Disbound (old tape reinforcement along spine).
FIRST EDITION. A very rare and early account of the first discovery of oil in America, and one of the industy's first pieces of promotional literature. Benjamin Silliman Jr., the Yale College chemist who Eveleth and Bissell hired to perform the principal and most effective analysis of the seep oil, finished his experiments April 16, 1855. His report was to be a major instrument in attracting stock buyers. Silliman emphasized the oil's value as an illuminant (after treatment) and found other beneficial properties and uses as well. "The report proved to be a turning-point in the establishment of the petroleum business, for it dispelled many doubts about its value and stimulated the interest of the New Haven Capitalists... By late June, 1855, more than two-thirds of the stock in the newly-proposed company [the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company] had been subscribed..." (Giddens, pp.8-9). VERY RARE: no copies of Silliman's report appear in ABPC for at least thirty years and it was not in the Streeter collection. Giddens, p.167; Sabin 81064.
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