J.A.V. Butler (1928)

The Fundamentals of Chemical Thermodynamics by J.A.V. Butler, published by Macmillan and Co. Ltd. in Great Britain. Part 1 was first published in 1928 but the above copy is the second edition from 1935. Part 2 was published in 1934, so in this set the Part 2 volume dates from a year earlier than Part 1. Both however ended up in the sole possession of Jacob H. Lindemuth Jr. in America, of whom more later.

JAV Butler (1899-1977), the V standing for Valentine because he was born on 14 February, has an interesting personal history. Coming from a non-academic farming family in rural England, he succeeded through talent and tenacity in carving out a fine university career as a scientist and educator. He also seems to have been the first to use the term “chemical thermodynamics” in a book title.

Part 1 of his book, published in 1928, falls between the dates of the two books credited with establishing chemical thermodynamics as a mainstream science – Lewis and Randall (1923) and E.A. Guggenheim (1931). Butler’s first volume was modest in its scope, being in his words “an elementary introduction to the subject”. The book covers the two laws, applications to changes of state (Clapeyron equation, Le Châtelier’s Principle), dilute solution, gas reactions, and then six chapters on electrochemistry which was Butler’s previous research specialty.

Part 2 of his book, published in 1934 and subtitled Thermodynamical Functions and their Applications, takes its cue from Lewis rather than Guggenheim, adopting Lewis’ cumbersome partial molar free energy representations rather than Gibbs’ concisely expressed chemical potential μ. There is plenty of coverage of solutions and ions in this volume, again reflecting Butler’s research interests.

But back to the previous owner of this two-volume set, Jacob H. Lindemuth Jr., who signed the books with different fountain pens – one fine nib, one broad nib – suggesting he possibly acquired them one at a time.

Lindemuth’s signature on the front end-paper of Part 1

An internet search produced a result in the shape of an obituary (link below) published in the East Bay Times based in Walnut Creek, CA. Originally from Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, Jacob Lindemuth became a chemical engineer and spent his career in the aluminum industry with a string of increasingly important positions. In retirement he lived in Lafayette, CA and died there in 2008 at the age of 93. CarnotCycle acquired these treasured and often-consulted volumes from an antiquarian bookseller in Walnut Creek in 2014.


Butler’s two-volume work was published in one volume for the first time in 1946. The single-volume edition was reprinted in 1949, 1951 and 1955, evidencing the continued popularity of this work in the post-war period. The CarnotCycle library has a copy of the 1955 edition.