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Book Notes: Adventures of a Chemist Collector, Alfred Bader

Chloe Loewe

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Adventures of a Chemist Collector, Alfred Bader (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995) 288pp. 4- 40pp. plates, index. ?14.99. I had read a brief account of Dr Bader in Chemistry in Britain (vol. 29, no. 11, Nov. 1993) and knew of his generosity in acquiring and giving the manor castle 243</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes at Herstmonceux, Sussex, to Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, for use as a study centre, so I was pleased to learn more about him. Alfred Bader was born in Vienna in 1924 and brought up in a Jewish home by his widowed paternal aunt. Financial difficulties altered their lifestyle during the mid-193os, but he showed quite early on an appreciation of art, preferring to buy an Old Master drawing than a camera with money given him for his tenth birthday. Reading, playing football and collecting stamps were also early pursuits. Hitler's entry into Vienna, and laws which denied education to Jewish students after the age of fourteen persuaded his aunt it would be better for him to go with the first Kindertransport to England to stay with distant relatives. He learnt later that his aunt had died in Theresienstadt in 1941, and his mother died in 1948. Dr Bader writes of his early days in Hove and Brighton, of his benefactors and schooling. (Mention of Mrs Sarah Wolff, her son Martin, and her six granddaugh? ters in Montreal, brought a thrill, as I realized that I knew several of them, including Mrs Sarah Orkin who with her husband Philip has long been a member of the Jewish Historical Society here.) Bader tells us of his problems when, after a boyish escapade, he was arrested as a suspected enemy alien, taken to the Isle of Man and eventually to Canada where his studies continued while he was in custody. Deprived of news except from wind-blown 'scraps of newspaper', chance brought him a report of the death of Martin Wolff's wife; later he was able to make contact with Mr Wolff and to be released into his sponsorship in Montreal. With this help and support he applied to and was accepted at Queen's University and continued his studies in engineering and in chemistry, and after a period spent in industry, to work for a PhD at Harvard. The company with whom he had previously worked had by now been sold to one in Milwaukee and he moved there to continue his career. Dr Bader writes entertainingly about the problems and triumphs of his new life there, of his marriage, personal life and friendships, and of Aldrich, the chemical company with which he was involved. He tells of difficulties encountered and of successes; of the growth of Sigma-Aldrich and of the way in which he left it. This together with his second marriage - to the love of his life, Isabel - was a prelude to his second career, which includes collecting and dealing in paintings, but also undertaking many charitable projects. The many photographs, covering different phases of Dr Bader's life, will bring recognition and happy memories to many of his readers. Chloe Loewe</page></plain_text>