The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Bœttcher, Jean Frederck

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Bœttcher, Jean Frederck

Edition of 1920. See also Johann Friedrich Böttger on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BŒTTCHER, bėt'kėr, Jean Frederck (his name is also spelled BOETTIGER), German alchemist, the inventor of Meissen porcelain: b. Schleiz 1681; d. 1719. A man of dissolute habits and dishonorable conduct, he is celebrated for his extraordinary adventures and his fortunate discovery of the famous Dresden porcelain. Apprenticed to an apothecary in Berlin, he spent his time in the pursuit of alchemy and pretended to have made gold. This discovery, as it was believed to be, exposed him to the danger of a prosecution for sorcery, to avoid which he fled. Such was the credulity of the time that the Prussian government was anxious for his return, and the Elector of Saxony, then King of Poland, supplied him with the means of prosecuting his inquiries, and was entertained by his promises for three years. By the advice of Count Tschirnhausen, the Elector was induced to turn the real chemical knowledge and abilities of Bœttcher to account in developing the resources of the country. This sensible advice was rewarded with the discovery of a red clay at Meissen, from which a beautiful porcelain could be made. Bœttcher was entrusted with the direction of the manufacture, but was so little trustworthy that he had almost to be detained a prisoner to prevent his divulging the secrets of the process. He had actually entered into a negotiation with some Prussians to do so, and his death alone saved him from the punishment of his treachery.