1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wenzel, Karl Friedrich

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WENZEL, KARL FRIEDRICH (1740–1793), German metallurgist, was born in 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 1780 he was appointed chemist to the Freiberg foundries by the elector of Saxony. In 1785 he became assessor to the porcelain works at Meissen. He died in 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 über de chemische Verwandtschaft der Körper, 1777). But this attribution rests on a mistake 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.