FLEMING, Sir Alexander (1881-1955). An album of monochrome photographs of Sir Alexander Fleming and the production of penicillin [compiled by John Cameron c.1945].
Oblong 2° (223 x 320mm). Containing 76 tipped-in photographs, c. 205 x 255, comprising: 32 photographs of Fleming, 4 signed by Fleming, one signed again on the verso; 38 photographs depicting the testing, production and distribution of penicillin with printed captions tipped onto the album leaf beneath; 6 other photographs of figures associated with Fleming's visit. Loosely-inserted are: Remarks made at the Dinner for Sir Alexander Fleming Mayo Foundation House, July 16, 1945 by D.C. Balfour [...] N.M. Keith [...] John Cameron [...] and Sir Alexander Fleming [Rochester, Minnesota: 1945], 8°, 10pp., original wrappers; 2 photographs of Fleming being award an honourary doctorate (some photographs with marginal creasing or short tears or pinholes, a few with traces of earlier adhesive on the versos.) Original half roan, titled on the upper board 'Penicillin', flap on the upper pastedown containing the pamphlet, [?]original box (very light rubbing to extremities, a few light marks, slight wear to box). Provenance: John Cameron, and by descent.
AN IMPORTANT ALBUM OF PHOTOGRAPHS DEPICTING FLEMING'S VISIT TO THE USA IN 1945 COMPILED BY HIS FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE JOHN CAMERON, FOUR OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS SIGNED BY FLEMING. Although Fleming discovered penicillin's antibiotic properties in 1928 (publishing his work in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology in 1929), he lacked the chemical knowledge to produce a stable form that could be employed therapeutically, and it was only in 1940 that Ernst Chain and Howard Florey's Oxford team succeeded in this, developing the techniques with laboratories in the USA. Following the Allied victory in Europe in May 1945, Fleming departed for the USA in June 1945 to undertake a tour of the country and to inspect the laboratories of Pfizer (at that time the world's largest producer of penicillin), accompanied by John Cameron of the British Supply Mission, Washington D.C.: 'Cameron [...] was his guide, and asked him to give press conferences, radio interviews and public lectures at the various universities, because it would be excellent propaganda for Great Britain. Fleming [...] did it very well' (A. Maurois The Life of Sir Alexander Fleming (London: 1959), p.201), and the two men became friends during the tour, as Cameron later recalled: 'I was completely under the spell of his charm, and our friendship has become for me one of the things that makes life worth living ... I have learned to know Alec really well, and to respect him' (quoted in: A. Maurois op. cit., p.205).
This album was presumably compiled by Cameron as a momento of Fleming and a record of the tour, which included visits to Dr Robert D. Coghill's laboratory at Peoria (where, with Florey and Norman Heatley, the fermentation techniques that made large-scale production feasible were developed -- one photograph shows Fleming, Coghill, Cameron and others outside the laboratory) and the factories producing penicillin; commemorative dinners, including that at the Mayo Foundation House, where speeches were given by Fleming on the nature of research and by N.M. Keith, who had worked with Fleming during World War I (included in Remarks made at the Dinner ...); the award of an honourary doctorate by Harvard University. In October 1945, shortly after his return from this tour, Fleming was notified that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize with Chain and Flory.