|Dr. Emanuel von Salis (1859-1939)
Photo: Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. III
Emanuel von Salis, a manufacturing chemist in the early United States dyestuff and pharmaceutical industries, was born in Basle, Switzerland in 1859. He graduated from the Swiss Polytechnic
Institute at Zurich in 1883 with the Bachelor of Chemistry degree. He was awarded a doctoral degree at the University of Geneva.
Dr. von Salis was the owner of Hohenhauser and Co., a dye business in Manchester, England, before coming to the U.S. in 1898. He joined the American Color and Chemical Company in
September 1898 as vice president and general manager. This company had been established earlier that year on Waterloo Island in the Hudson River near Albany, New York. After a promising
start in the textile dyes market, a fire destroyed much of the plant around 1901. American Color and Chemical Company was liquidated in 1903 and Dr. von Salis joined the nearby Hudson River
Aniline Color Works as manager of operations. He continued in this position when the company was acquired by Friedrich Bayer & Co. in 1903.
Under his leadership, the plant expanded its dye production and began the first U.S. manufacture of aspirin in 1904. The plant became known as The Bayer Company in 1913. Dr. von Salis was
vice president and general manager when the company was seized by the U.S. government in 1917 as enemy property. Dr. von Salis was named to the board of directors by the government.
The Alien Property Custodian sold the business in 1918 to Sterling Products Inc., a drug manufacturer of Wheeling, West Virginia. Sterling Products immediately sold the dye-making portion of
the company and plant to the Grasselli Chemical Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. von Salis remained as vice president and general manager of both companies operating at the Rensselaer plant. After 1926 he was only associated with the pharmaceutical manufacturing.
He retired in 1934 but continued a consulting relationship, visiting the plant daily.
The Swiss Polytechnic Institute renewed Dr. von Salis’s degree in 1933 to recognize the 50th anniversary of his graduation. He was vice president and a trustee of the Rensselaer County Bank
and a trustee of the Home Savings Bank of Albany.
In 1934, Dr. von Salis attended the retirement celebration of Raymond Foster, president of the Winthrop Chemical Company which operated the pharmaceutical portion of the Rensselaer site.
Dr. von Salis died on March 9, 1939 in Beverly Hills, while vacationing with his wife in California.
1) “Emanuel von Salis of Aspirin Firm, 80”, New York Times, March 10, 1939
2) James E. Donahue III, “Rensselaer: Cradle of the American Dyestuff Industry”, American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 81, No. 11, November 1992, pp. 159-163
3) Leander Ricard, “A History of the Dye Producing Industry in Rensselaer, New York, Textile Chemist and Colorist, Vol. 26, No. 8, August 1994, pp. 23-26
Emanuel von Salis Biography
|Left: Dr. von Salis Note Accepting Invitation to Retirement Celebration of Raymond Foster in 1934. Foster Was President of Winthrop Chemical Company.
Right: Executives Attending the Retirement Celebration Included Dr. von Salis. Click Images to Enlarge
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