[Chargaff, Erwin] Schrader, Franz | Mitosis. The Movements of Chromosomes in Cell Division

  • Third printing of this influential work, originally published in 1944. From the library of molecular biologist Erwin Chargaff (1905-2002), with this ownership signature in ink on the front free endpaper.

    Chargaff’s work elucidated key concepts about DNA and provided part of the groundwork for Watson and Crick’s discovery of its structure. Chargaff’s rules, as they are now known, state that the quantities of the four nucleotides are always linked - guanine matching that of cytosine and adenine with thiamine, and that the relative amounts of each vary from species to species. These observations strongly hinted that the nucleotides carried the genetic information (rather than the protein components, as had been thought previously), and, most importantly, that DNA could have a double structure - the key to the cell’s ability to both read and replicate it. “Chargaff discussed the results at a tetchy meeting with Watson and Crick in May 1952, and later told Horace Judson, the historian of the discovery of DNA, that ‘they impressed me by their extreme ignorance’” (Guardian obituary). Chargaff’s contributions, along with those of Rosalind Franklin, were ignored by the Nobel Prize committee, leading to his bitterness in later life.

    The present text is a significant in our understanding of the physical processes involved in cell division. Franz Schrader (1891-1962) was a Columbia University cytologist who, in 1932, began studying spindles, the structures in cells that form during cell division and pull apart the copied chromosomes. Mitosis “placed what was known of these subjects under searching analysis and offered new directions for research on chromosomal movements” (Cooper, Franz Schrader: A Biographical Memoir, National Academy of Sciences, 1993). An excellent association.

  • New York, Morningside: Columbia University Press, 1949. Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine gilt. 1 double-sided plate, illustrations within the text. Very lightly rubbed at the tips, small blue sink spots on the upper edge of the text block. Excellent condition.