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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Maybrick, James

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  #4371  
Old 04-21-2018, 04:51 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
Thank for that Gareth. Id have thought someone would have enquired of a scientist by now as it appears to be something that should be easy either to dismiss or confirm. It seems to have dragged on without a definitive answer.
I seem to recall that the late, beloved "Nemo" raised this question a while back but, as far as I recall, no satisfactory answer was forthcoming.
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  #4372  
Old 04-22-2018, 02:17 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Not that it really matters, but my grandmother (born in 1873) used to take charcoal tablets, as 'they clean out the system'. Couldn't have done her much harm, as she lived to nearly 90. Actually, charcoal and bone black (as identified I believe by one of the analysts who examined the Diary) are carbon materials produced from two different sources.

Activated charcoal is a powerful absorbent and used in many industrial applications for removing trace contaminants. Its presence in the spine of the Diary book must I think remain unexplained - I merely suggested a possibility.

Graham
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  #4373  
Old 04-22-2018, 02:57 AM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Thanks, Graham

Whilst activated charcoal, and possibly similar substances like bone-black, has certain useful properties, I can't see that it would reverse the buildup of arsenic in the liver, kidneys and other tissues, which would have applied in the case of a long-term user like Maybrick. Just reading around 't internet on treatments for arsenic poisoning, I haven't yet seen carbon, in whatever form, being mentioned - apart from in Feldman's book.

I have, however, seen bone-black mentioned as being used in chemical processes to cleanse water supplies contaminated with arsenic or other toxins. Perhaps Feldman read something similar, subconsciously generalised it to "bone-black is used to remove arsenic" and, as a consequence, took things a step too far.
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  #4374  
Old 04-22-2018, 03:10 AM
Iconoclast Iconoclast is offline
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Originally Posted by Graham View Post
Not that it really matters, but my grandmother (born in 1873) used to take charcoal tablets, as 'they clean out the system'. Couldn't have done her much harm, as she lived to nearly 90. Actually, charcoal and bone black (as identified I believe by one of the analysts who examined the Diary) are carbon materials produced from two different sources.

Activated charcoal is a powerful absorbent and used in many industrial applications for removing trace contaminants. Its presence in the spine of the Diary book must I think remain unexplained - I merely suggested a possibility.

Graham
Of all the conflicting issues around the Maybrick journal, I suspect that the presence of bone black in its spine is almost certainly an irrelevance. Indeed, yet another one of those pesky coincidences which seem so casually to crowd around the journal and deny it air to breathe. As noted a few posts earlier, and at the risk of falling foul of Argument by Personal Incredulity, it does seem extremely unlikely that Maybrick (or anyone else associated with arsenic abuse) would have the antidote with him (unless a form was available which was convenient to carry and which is as yet unknown to us, but presumably it would have to be the sort that crumbles so that it could inadvertantly get wedged in the journal's spine).

Would an arsenic-abuser seek out the antidote to his or her addiction in the event of overdose? It would be salutary to know how many heroin-abusers today would carry around naloxone with them on just such an eventuality (if they could get their hands on it).

PS If Lord O tracks down any previous post of mine in which I have hinted or indeed stated that the presence of the bone black is significant, I am happy now to accept that I was misguided.

PPS Apropos of nothing, isn't it a wonderful world which sends Villa down once (sorry Graham) and 5under1and down twice in a row? Must be something about all that gloating, and the banners, and the expensive planes-over-the-stadium in 2009 and 2016 that fans of those clubs seem to like to invest their money in?

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  #4375  
Old 04-22-2018, 03:16 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Did you check here, Sam?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activa...al_(medication)

Arsenic is not specifically mentioned in this brief article, I would assume because arsenic and compounds thereof for 'everyday' use (!) are rare these days compared with Victorian times. If activated charcoal (whether animal of ligneous) can be used to treat poisoning by the rather nasty materials that are mentioned, then I don't see why it shouldn't be an absorbent for arsenic. Anyway, just a thought.

I can actually remember seeing Charcoal Biscuits for sale in the Home & Colonial Store in Birmingham! They sound delightful....plain or milk chocolate?

Graham
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  #4376  
Old 04-22-2018, 04:07 AM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Hello Graham

I did look on places like webmd and medscape, which said - inter alia - that whilst activated charcoal can indeed be used to treat overdoses of certain substances, it isn't effective against (e.g.) iron or lithium poisoning; neither is it effective against toxins that have built up in the tissues over time. I should add that nowhere have I found reference to charcoal (let alone bone-black) being used as an antidote for arsenic poisoning, except in Feldman's book. I've done a cursory Google Books search as well, in case there are medical books from the Victorian era or earlier that said as much, with no luck as yet.
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Old 04-22-2018, 04:36 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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OK Sam. If I can take just a quick trip into Never-Never Land, and suggest that if old Maybrick was feeling a tad off-colour thanks to his arsenic habit, then perhaps as bone-black was in those days an accepted 'medicine' and household product, and there was some in the kitchen cupboard, he got some down him and spilled it on the Diary as he was writing. Do I believe this? Well......

Graham
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  #4378  
Old 04-22-2018, 04:42 AM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Hello Graham

I don't think we need to worry if, as I suspect, the idea of bone-black as "arsenic antidote" only arose due to a mistake on Feldman's part.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:33 AM
Herlock Sholmes Herlock Sholmes is offline
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Ill leave this for others to judge but this piece does appear to say that bone black could be used in the ‘adulteration’ of strychnine ( in effect, diluting it.)

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...chnine&f=false

Apologies if this piece has already been posted or discussed

Its from The Lancet by the way.
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  #4380  
Old 04-22-2018, 08:39 AM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Originally Posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
Ill leave this for others to judge but this piece does appear to say that bone black could be used in the ‘adulteration’ of strychnine ( in effect, diluting it.)
Thanks for the article, Herlock

That's adulteration was quite a complex process, mind! Impure strychnine is mixed with bone-black, because the latter contains calcium phosphate. Acid is then added to the mixture which dissolves the strychnine and calcium phosphate, both of which were precipitated out and treated with ammonia. What you ended up with was strychnine adulterated with calcium phosphate, which - presumably after drying into a powder - naughty dealers would sell as if it were 100% strychnine.

In short, the bone-black is here being used as a source of calcium phosphate, not because it's a substance with a particular affinity for strychnine.
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