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Victor G Bloede

Victor Gustav Bloede

pronounced Blerda

Victor Bloede (ca.) 1900[1]
Dresden, Germany
ResidenceCatonsville, Maryland
CitizenshipUnited States of America
InstitutionsVictor G. Bloede Company Bloede & Rathbone
Alma materCooper Institute, New York
Academic advisor  Peter Cooper
Known forEntrepreneurship, Philanthropist
InfluencesPeter Cooper
Victor Gustav Bloede, Manufacturing Chemist, Entrepreneur, Inventor, Philanthropist

Victor Gustav Bloede, (pronounced as Blerda) was an eminent chemist[2] and manufacturer of chemicals, president of the Victor G. Bloede Company, which for many years took the lead in Baltimore, Maryland for its special line of industry. As with most persons who have attained great success, Bloede made his way with nothing more than his own hard work and determination, coupled with business foresight and ability. With his genuine worth and strict integrity he won the confidence and high esteem of all whom he came in contact with. His history is that of a strong man who set himself to succeed in spite of all obstacles; he studied and worked hard until he stood one of the most respected men in Baltimore.

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Early life and education

Bloede was born in 1849, in Dresden, Germany, the son of Gustav Bloede, a physician and member of the city council of Dresden during the German revolutions. Upon coming to the United States, Gustav Bloede served as a surgeon in the American Civil War. After the war the family settled in Brooklyn, New York. The cultured Bloede home became a salon, which attracted such 19th century figures as Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Victor received the groundwork of his education in [public school and by the age of 12 he began to support himself by working as an office boy and earned the means to pursue his studies. While working by day he studied at night at the Cooper Institute (now known as the Cooper Union) in New York City, one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher learning[3]. His mother, Marie Franziska Bloede was his chief inspiration, guiding, encouraging, and strengthening his growth. His family was one of marked culture, not only had his father distinguished himself by work in natural sciences, but on his mother’s side as well, two uncles had been prominent in literature and politics. Like his father Victor also became interested in natural science as he studied at Cooper Institute, and he graduated in 1867, earning a chemical engineering degree at the age of 18. His class was the first at the institute to receive diplomas for the chemical engineering course. He was also privileged to have been a personal acquaintance of the great Industrialist, Inventor, philanthropist and founder of the institution, Peter Cooper, whose example and teachings were strongly influential in molding Victors character and in his life work. From reading the biographies of other great men Victor sought out and found inspiration and encouragement. From early on he set himself in motion which led to his success, concentration of effort in one direction and the perseverance to purse and achieve his goals[4].


In 1868 Victor secured a position at Chemical Works, a small chemical company in Brooklyn, New York along the Gowanus creek canal. There he began to study chemical manufacturing and pharmaceutical preparations. In 1873 Bloede moved to Pomeroy, Ohio, the center of salt manufacturing along the Ohio River.[5] He joined the Oakes & Rathbone Company in Parkersburg, West Virginia which produced sulfuric acid for the bromine distillers in the region. The plant was located on the south side of the Little Kanawha River a tributary of the Ohio River. Oakes left the firm in 1875 and Bloede acquired his interests, the company became known as Bloede & Rathbone. The product line was extended to iron sulfate, iron nitrate, tin salts, mordants and other chemicals used mainly by the textile industry. Bloede’s familiarity with the textile industry led to the idea of manufacturing aniline dyes to increase profits. At the time most dyes were imported from Germany. There were only two companies producing dyes in the U.S. Bloede was determined to manufacture aniline by nitrating benzene to form nitrobenzene, followed by reduction. One problem he faced was to purify benzene from the light tar oils, which was supplied in barrels by coal tar distilleries and gas plants. Lacking a distillation column, he used an old boiler shell connected with a condensing coil but the benzene quality was poor. He then consulted with a distillation expert, James A. Moffett, who was operating the Camden branch of the Standard Oil Company of Parkersburg, Moffett was convinced that dye manufacturing could be profitable and invested money in Bloede & Rathbone. Dye manufacturing was organized as a separate entity named the American Aniline Works. The founders of the new company had little dye making experience so they read German texts on the subject. There was no money left for new equipment, so they had to rely on scrapped equipment they obtained from the Standard Oil junk pile. Instead of a heavy cast iron nitrator, an old boiler shell with a capacity of 1,000 gallons (3785 Litres) was fitted with a central shaft of horizontal wrought iron paddles. The valve regulating the flow of acid into the nitrator was operated by a wire several hundred feet away. The operator would periodically run close enough to the nitrator to read the thermometer and run back to safety. Cooling was accomplished by running cold spring water over the top and sides of the nitrator, keeping the reaction within a range of five degrees Fahrenheit. This procedure resulted in 7,000 to 8,000 pounds (3175 - 3628 Kg) of nitrobenzene per batch. In 1877 he established himself in Baltimore as a chemist and manufacturer of chemical products; and decided that there was a wide field for improvement in the methods then in use in chemical factories. Applying his skills he made tremendous advances in the chemistry business, mainly in the methods of dyeing cotton fabrics; and between 1890 and 1895 he obtained 15 or 20 patents for his chemical processes, one of the most important patents being his process for the dyeing “sun-fast”, unfading shades.  In 1906 Victor Bloede organized the Avalon Water Works and the Patapsco Electric & Manufacturing Co.[6] and financed the construction of Bloede's Dam, a hydroelectric dam which impounds the Patapsco River to serve as a power generating plant for the Patapsco Electric & Manufacturing Company, a service providing electricity to Catonsville, Maryland and the surrounding areas. Bloede's dam was the first known Hydroelectric dam of-its-kind in the country.[7][8]. He also organized the First National Bank of Catonsville, of which he was vice-president for 10 years, and in 1908 he was made president. He projected the Baltimore, Catonsville and Ellicott City Electric railway[9] , and he helped to organize the National City Bank of Baltimore, in 1910 and became one of its directors. Victor Bloede possessed the power of handling large groups of men and coordinating their energies so that the best results could be obtained. In his dealings with them he was honest and courteous, yet firm and just, and due to his executive ability came a great measure of success. This ability gave him notability in other business relations which contributed to him being in great demand on various boards of directors and won him the highest regard among his business associates as well as their sincere personal esteem.[10]


  Victor Bloede received a number of medals for his various useful and economic inventions which were not all instigated by a desire for financial gain, but by a selfless wish to benefit humanity at large, to advance the general health, wealth, and prosperity. It is that which Mr. Bloede proved himself a benefactor not only to the city of Baltimore, but to the nation, and the world.[12] Through the work he did and the influence he has exercised upon his surroundings. His devotion to his friends, his integrity in his commercial relations, and his influence over his subordinates, combined may very well have made him one of the finest business men whom Baltimore has ever known. On November 10, 1908, Victor Gustav Bloede presented the Hospital for Consumptives of Maryland (a tuberculosis sanitarium), with a new building erected on 23 acres (0.093 km²) of park grounds in Towson, Maryland, dedicated as the “Marie Bloede Memorial Hospital for Advanced Consumptives” in honor of his mother. It was accepted by Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs, as president, in the presence of the Governor of Maryland, Austin Lane Crothers, Reverend Bishop William Paret, Mayor of Baltimore, J. Barry Mahool, and a large and distinguished gathering. Bloede was the underwriter of many other important benefactions, and made many improvements in his home town of Catonsville, Maryland.

Scientific affiliations

Victor Bloede was an active member of a number of scientific associations, such as

  • the International Society of Chemical Industry
  • the American Chemical Society[13]
  • the prestigious Chemists’ Club of New York City[14].
  • the Johns Hopkins Club[15].

He has also contributed to many scientific literatures

  • Early Attempts to Establish the Aniline Industry-in United States[16]

Books authored

In 1867 he authored "The Reducer's Manual and Gold and Silver Worker's Guide."[17]

Notable inventions

Invented the adhesive on postage stamps and envelopes. [18]

Personal and family Life

On June 5, 1883, he married Elise Schon, daughter Carl Schon Sr. from Toledo, Ohio, who designed and built summer cottages on Eden Terrace in Catonsville. Earlier, he had designed many buildings in Toledo and was superintendent of the Toledo water works for over 15 years [19]. With this marriage he gained a life long companionship. Mr. and Mrs. Bloede had five children: Marie, Carl S, Ilse, Victor (Jr.), and Vida. Bloede had a strong personality, alert, progressive and insightful. He believed in physical and mental exercise for a sound body and mind, he recommended to others which methods he himself had used and gained such success. In his free time he took interest in fishing, rowing and walking, he also enjoyed playing quoits and other games with family and friends and found a wealth of enjoyment in his mental exercises.

Perseverance he believed, is the secret of success. Perseverance with a well mapped out plan, allowing no obstacle to discourage or defeat. He said:

Never give up an undertaking because it is hard and unpromising, but persist until you succeed. I have observed that men seldom fail to accomplish any task or aim which they have set before them when their motto is ‘Never give up trying’. Persistence is the great single element in success. Have a purpose in life, seek associates among those to whom you can look up, observe men and women of strong character.[20]


  1. ^ Victor Bloede - Baltimore County Public Library Image Archive
  2. ^ The synthetic dye industry in West Virginia began with the efforts of the chemist Victor G. Bloede (1849-1937)..
  3. ^ History of The Cooper Union
  4. ^ Baltimore: Its History and Its People, Clayton Coleman Hall, 1912, Lewis Historical Publishing Company
  5. ^ Salt manufacturing along the Ohio River..
  6. ^ Baltimore: Its History and Its People, Clayton Coleman Hall, 1912, Lewis Historical Publishing Company
  7. ^ Bloede's Dam at MD-DNR
  8. ^ Historic Context for the Archaeology of Industrial Labor in the State of Maryland
  9. ^ National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association (OCNA).
  10. ^ Baltimore: Its History and Its People, Clayton Coleman Hall, 1912, Lewis Historical Publishing Company
  11. ^ Marie Bloede Memorial - Baltimore County Public Library Image Archive
  12. ^ Baltimore: Its History and Its People, Clayton Coleman Hall, 1912, Lewis Historical Publishing Company
  13. ^ American Chemical Society
  14. ^ the New York Chemists' Club
  15. ^ Johns Hopkins Club
  16. ^ Bloede, Victor G. (April 1923). Early Attempts to Establish the Aniline Industry-in United States.
  17. ^ Bloede, Victor G. (1867). The Reducer's Manual and Gold and Silver Worker's Guide., 167 p. 
  18. ^ Greater Parkersburg Fast Facts.
  19. ^ History of Toledo and Lucas County.
  20. ^ Baltimore: Its History and Its People, Clayton Coleman Hall, 1912, Lewis Historical Publishing Company


  • The Baltimore County Public Library
  • West Virginia Dye Industry
  • Half Century of The United States Dye History
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Victor G. Bloede, "Some Early Attempts to Establish the Aniline Industry in United States", Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Vol. 16, No. 4, April 1924, p. 409
  • Baltimore: Its History and Its People, written by Clayton Coleman Hall, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912 pp 615-617
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Victor_G_Bloede". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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