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The new chemical "battery" was most interesting. Just by adding two electrodes of different metal into a glass container of weak oil of vitriol one could generate enough of the new electricity to light the small light bulb.
Dr. Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz returned his attention to the up-time science book. The large printing and colorful pictures gave clear directions on the process and explained everything in the simplest of English. Just what was needed for the World's Greatest Alchemist, especially as he had only learnt English because those silly up-time females from the town of Grantville could only provide reference material in English.
Phillip looked back at his "wet cell battery." The zinc electrode was wasting away before his very eyes. He had been warned about this. He pulled the electrodes from the oil of vitriol and wiped them with a rag. Then he turned to the collection of chemicals the Grantville females had given him when they presented him with the up-time science books. One jar caught his eye. It was labeled "Zinc Zn." There was less than half a jar of the precious metal left.
With a heavy heart he turned back to survey his laboratory. There were a number of electricity experiments that really needed zinc. However, zinc was not available in Europe except as an expensive import from the distant East Indies.
Dragging his feet, Phillip made his way to his study. In there were all of his reference books. Maybe there was something in there about zinc.
There was nothing on sources of zinc in his library. He sighed heavily. He had been afraid that would be the case. He moved over to the window and looked out over the crowded streets of Jena towards the university. No. That would never do. He would not go begging those people for help. Phillip conceded defeat. He collapsed into his chair. Reached for his pens and ink. Pulled a sheet of paper from a drawer and sat and chewed the end of the iron tipped pen while he debated how to start the letter to Frau Kubiak. If any of the up-timers knew how to get zinc, he was sure Frau Kubiak would be able to obtain the necessary information. His only worry was what the dratted woman would ask in return.
Grantville Canvas and Outdoor, Mahan Run
Tracy Kubiak carefully placed the letter from Dr. Gribbleflotz on the kitchen table. She stepped back from it and walked around the kitchen. All the while, she kept an eye on the letter, expecting it to get up and bite her, or try to escape. She had had sufficient dealings with Dr. Gribbleflotz to know just how hard he must have found it to write that letter. The fact that there were no errors or blots suggested that it wasn't a first draft. A lot of care and attention had been invested in it.
Tracy searched high and low for her husband, calling out as she searched. She finally ran him to ground in his workshop. "Ted. There you are. Why didn't you answer when I called?"
Ted very carefully didn't say that he had answered. "What's the problem, Trace?"
"I just got a letter from Dr. Phil. He wants to know about zinc. What do we know about zinc?"
Ted smiled at his wife and shrugged his shoulders. "Somewhere between nothing and not a lot. What does he want to know?"
"He says he's afraid of running out of zinc for his electricity experiments. I think he wants us to find him some more."
"That's not going to happen. Every bit of spare zinc, even up-time coins, is being melted down for use in industry. They don't make it in Europe yet. They import it from the Far East, as far as I know. Do you want me to check out the library?"
"Please. If there's nothing else you need to do, I'd like you to see what you can find."
Ted smiled wryly. "So, what is it you want from Dr. Phil this time?"
"Actually . . . " She smiled back. "Nothing. I can't think of a thing, but it won't hurt to have Dr. Phil owe us. You never know. Maybe one day we'll get something really good out of him."
"Yeah, right." There was only a hint of skepticism in his voice. "I'll finish cleaning up in here then head over to the library. While I'm out that way, I might as well drop in on the ammonia plant and see how Dr. Phil's crew are doing."
HDG Enterprizes, Jena
Dr. Gribbleflotz and his personal laborant, Hans Saltzman, carefully read over the large bundle of notes Tracy Kubiak had sent. They described zinc and the extraction process, but the notes created more questions than they answered.
"I shall have to journey to Grantville and examine the research material myself, Hans. Please see that everything is made ready."
"Of course, Herr Doctor. Will you be visiting the spirits of hartshorn facility?"
Phillip paused to think for a moment. "Yes. If I include an inspection of the facility, I will be able to claim the cost of the trip against the company."
"Very reasonable, Herr Doctor. Will you be requiring my presence on this journey?"
"No." Phillip shook his head. "Not unless you wish to come. You could visit some of the up-time facilities if you wish. I am sure Michael Siebenhorn and Kurt Stoltz will be only too happy to make arrangements."
Once in Grantville, his duty visit to the spirits of hartshorn plant complete, Phillip had set out to complete his real mission. Michael Siebenhorn, the ex-laborant in charge of the facility, had introduced Phillip to a most excellent specialist library researcher and a copyist to do the hard work of the actual library search and the taking of notes. While the two specialists visited the various libraries around Grantville, Phillip, with time heavy on his hands, had taken the opportunity to investigate the clothing and shoe stores of Grantville. Hans was left to amuse himself touring some of the up-time facilities
The copious notes assembled by the researcher and copyist sat in piles on Dr. Gribbleflotz' desk. Both Phillip and Hans worked away in silence, reading and taking notes. " 'Both sphalerite and calamine are ores of zinc.' Well, that is old news." Phillip looked across to Hans, a look of disgust on his face. "You would think, for the exorbitant fees those leeches charged, that they would tell me something I didn't already know. Why, I've made brass using both of those self same ores many a time."
"But, Herr Doctor. Read this." Hans waved the sheet he had just finished reading. "It says here that it is from the vapors of those ores that one can obtain the zinc."
"What? Let me see that." Phillip grabbed the sheet and quickly read it. He dropped his head into his hands. "So close." He looked up at Hans. "So many times I have been so close to discovering zinc. If only I had thought to trap the vapors. I would have earned my rightful place beside my great grandfather, the great Paracelsus."
"Herr Doctor, one of the notes says that the great Paracelsus named the metal zinken." Hans hurriedly flicked through the researcher's notes. "Yes, here it is."
Phillip read the note. "Then in honor of my great grandfather, from now on, I shall call the metal zinken."
Phillip started to walk around his study. "We will need to prove that we can isolate the zinken. Either of the ores will do for that. However . . . " Phillip paused to read from the sheet he held. " It appears that 'pure' oil of vitriol can be made by catching the vapors from the zinken ore sphalerite. As the process to isolate zinken is the same for both ores, we shall experiment with sphalerite."
Phillip stopped to read further. "I believe ten thousand Pfennige should be enough. According to this paper, that is sufficient to produce four thousand Pfennige of metallic zinken and two gallons of strong oil of vitriol."
Phillip made for the door. "Hans, start making a list of what else we will need while I instruct Frau Mittelhausen to place an order for some sphalerite. We will start designing the new retorts we will need when I return."
Phillip found his housekeeper-cum-business-manager in the kitchen. After stopping to slip a couple of cookies out of the cookie barrel, he approached her. "Frau Mittelhausen."
"Yes, Herr Doctor?"
"Frau Mittelhausen, please place an order of ten thousand Pfennige of sphalerite ore. I believe it should come from the Harz region. Please be sure to insist on only the best quality ore, and ask that it be delivered as soon as possible. For such a trifling amount the transport cost should not be excessive."
"I will pass on the order to Herr Ostermann when I collect the bread and pies from the bakery, Herr Doctor." Frau Mittelhausen added a note to her shopping list.
Ostermann Transport, Jena
"Good afternoon, Frau Mittelhausen. What can we do for you today?" Joachim Ostermann asked.
"Herr Doctor Gribbleflotz wishes to purchase some material from Harz." Frau Mittelhausen checked her shopping list. "Ten thousand Pfennige of sphalerite."
"Sphalerite, ten thousand Pfennige?" Herr Ostermann checked to confirm he had heard correctly.
"Yes. Only the best premium grade ore mind, Herr Ostermann."
"Of course, Frau. For the good Herr Doctor, only the best of the best. For such a small amount the supplier might charge a premium price. Will that be agreeable?"
"Yes, Herr Ostermann. If you would prepare a contract, I will sign it when I return from the bakery."