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This 19th century book could literally kill

This 19th century book could literally kill

Dec 312020

Of the 100 original copies of this work, only four have been preserved in the US to date.


When it comes to life-threatening books, they usually refer to the radical or controversial ideas they contain, but in the US there are a few copies that could literally kill.

It is about the work 'Shadows from the Walls of Death: Facts and Inferences Prefacing a Book of Specimens of Arsenical Wall Papers' (' Shadows from the walls of death: facts and information that precede a book of samples of arsenical wallpaper '), created by Robert Clark Kedzie - a Union surgeon during the American Civil War who later became a professor of chemistry - and published in 1874.

The author compiled 86 samples of arsenic wallpaper in his book. At that time it was known that arsenic is a toxin capable of killing a person if ingested, but no one imagined that the poison could kill even when used as an active ingredient to make the colors of the wallpaper more vivid. So, Kedzie printed his work as a warning.

At the end of the 19th century, around 65% of all the wallpaper in the North American country contained arsenic and the scientist discovered that over time, this poison was released and ended up in the air, in food, in the hands of the inhabitants from the house, caused diseases and sometimes even killed them, reports the Oddity Central portal.

Of the 100 original copies of this book, only four have survived to the present day, as when Kedzie's theories were proven correct, most of the libraries that had received the copies destroyed them. Today, two books remain at two Michigan state universities, one ended up in the Harvard Medical School library and the fourth is at the National Library of Medicine, which also scanned and made it available. online.

Preserving and even storing the copies of the book is quite a difficult task. Before wrapping each page in plastic film in 1998, the copy at Michigan State University could only be touched by people wearing special gloves, among other restrictions.

This 19th century book could literally kill

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