Dr. Charles Kugler and Gas Manufacture

In 1814, according to Niles' Weekly Register (VI, pp. 198-99), Dr. Charles Kugler -- "not being a practicing physician, although he had received a scientific education" -- was a Philadelphia merchant much interested in creating a public gas manufactory.

Rembrandt Peale, the noted Philadelphia painter, in an article dated June 7th, 1816 ("On Gas Light", The Portico, A Repository of Science and Literature, Vol. I, January-June, 1816, p. 523) comments on Kugler's display of gas lights in Peale's Museum.

Dr. Kugler . . . was soon convinced, that such a manufactory could not, with propriety, be established but at a distance from the city [owing to the strong odors associated with such manufacture.] . . . Instead, therefore, of pursuing his experiments on Coal, an article always dear in our cities, and sometimes not to be had, he more judiciously directed his attentions to less offensive substances, which can everywhere be procured; and has finally completed a discovery of the greatest consequence, in a country abounding in pitch, from which, by a simple apparatus, easily managed, without anything offensive in the operation, he prepares a gas at once cheaper and more brilliant, than that prepared from coal.
Peale goes on to describe the process.
In his apparatus, the oil descended in the receiver, immersed in water for the purpose, is afterwards employed to dissolve the pitch, which, thus disolved [sic], descends in a liquid form through an aperture, regulated by a stop-cock, down to the hottest part of the red-hot retort, and is there decomposed, and ascends into the Gas-holder, after escaping from the condensing receiver. [The process illustrated here by Wolcott et al is slightly different from that described as Kugler's, in that the turpentine is introduced onto the pitch in the retort.] . . . The gas requires no washing in Lime-water, no noxious vapour is produced, and the objections made [to coal gas] are avoided. [Portico, p. 525]

This material is covered extensively in Wolcott, "The Genesis of Gas Lights," (Theatre Research/Recherches Theatrales, Vol. XII, No. 1, 1972. pp. 74-86) What is described in this note is merely the bare bones account of Kugler's system, as it pertains to the present illustration and discussion.