The oldest stages in the development of metallurgical technology have never been named. The discovery of the method of smelting copper or iron is attributed to peoples living at a certain time in a specific area. There are no names of specific inventors whose idea spread around the region and was passed down from generation to generation. We do, however, know about those who wrote down the technological secrets and published their works, such as: Pliny, Theophilus Presbyter, Agricola, Swedenborg, Roździeński. Proprietary metallurgical technologies and equipment only appeared during the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, when inventions started being patented and became commercial in nature. Following the time when technologies and equipment were named after the first structures, e.g. Catalan forges, Bergamo bloomery, or the technique used – fining, puddling – the time arrived for: the Bessemer method, the Siemens furnace, the Martin furnace, Cowper stoves, the Thomas method. These named inventions were accompanied by thorough knowledge, experience, process trials, the construction of equipment prototypes and promotional activities typical of the times. The latter activities required investing significant funds.
One could ask why the revolutionary copper electrolysis technology still used to produce pure copper for electrical engineering today is not called the Łaszczyński method? The investors from Miedzianka – Stanisław and Bolesław Łaszczyński – fulfilled some of the above conditions. They were very well educated. Stanisław Ignacy – a chemist, graduate of Berlin University after 4 years of study at the Jagiellonian University, with a doctorate in chemistry for his dissertation on the hydroelectrolysis of zinc ores, with practice in the field of electrochemistry at the Siemens&Halske Company in Vienna. Bolesław Paweł – a chemist, graduate of the Jagiellonian University, with a doctorate in brewing at the University of Munich. They decided to apply their skills in Poland using a copper ore mine they bought in Miedzianka. Here, they implemented the hydroelectrometallurgical technology for producing copper, based on Stanisław’s patent registered in Berlin in 1902. The scope of patent protection was limited to Germany and Russia. The low abundance of deposits, the demand for pure copper and financial problems prevented the investors from developing the technology. The American market with its huge demand for pure copper due to investments by Edison and Tesla could have offered a solution. The demand for copper there necessitated the development of a proprietary copper electrolysis technology used for extensive ore deposits. The Łaszczyńskis’ invention and project were of local importance and were suspended after a few years. The original method of obtaining pure copper from poor oxygen ores, tested on an industrial scale, was thus not named the Łaszczyński method in technical literature. In metallurgical literature, the author of the patent was described as a Russian inventor who developed and implemented a copper electrolysis method 5 years before the Americans, and Russia was considered the homeland of modern copper and zinc hydroelectric metallurgy.
However, the biography and scientific achievements of Dr Stanisław Łaszczyński had a completely different nature. This was described by J. Braun in 1970. A biographical note by J. Mitkowski was published in Polski Słownik Biograficzny, and an extensive description of the activities of the Stanisław and Bolesław Łaszczyński brothers was presented in Studia z dziejów rozpoznania bogactw mineralnych regionu świętokrzyskiego of 1997 by prof. Zbigniew Wójcik. In parallel with studies on the activities of the Łaszczyński brothers in the Kielce region, work to document and popularise their achievements was done by the Scientific Council of the Society of Supporters of Old Polish Mining, Metallurgy and Industry. These activities were promoted by prof. Tadeusz Karwan of the AGH University, who proposed including a biographical note of Stanisław Łaszczyński in Kielecki Słownik Biograficzny. Nauka i Technika. Professor T. Karwan also initiated a scientific session in 1984, with the following presentations: Juliusza Braun – Miedzianka and the Łaszczyńskis, Zbigniew Rubinowski – Copper mine deposits in Miedzianka during the activity of Stanisław and Bolesław Łaszczyński, Z. Wójcik – On the mining and geological activities of the Łaszczyński brothers. The session resulted in publications by prof. Z. Wójcik, prof. Zenon Guldon and Jerzy Fijałkowski.
The activities of the Łaszczyński brothers were thus described in scientific publications, but the local community remained unaware of them. For this reason, prof. T. Karwan took the important initiative to build an electrolyser modeled on the invention of Dr Stanisław Łaszczyński at the Museum of Kielce, Rural Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia
1 J. Braun, Miedzianka. Karta z dziejów kopalnictwa i przetwórstwa miedzi w regionie chęcińskim, „Ziemia” 1968, s. 41-47.
2 Polski Słownik Biograficzny, t. XVIII, z. 2, 1973, s. 273-275.
3 Z. Wójcik, Działalność górnicza i geologiczna braci Łaszczyńskich, [w:] Studia z dziejów rozpoznania bogactw mineralnych regionu świętokrzyskiego, Kielce 1997, s. 114-129.
4 Z. Guldon, Pionierzy polskiej miedzi, „Przemiany”, 168, 1984, s. 24-25.
5 J. Fijałkowski, Złoto w podziemiach Miedzianki, „Przemiany”, 186, 1986, s. 20-21.
6 I. Suliga, A. Rembalski, Ćwierć wieku rekonstrukcji chęcińskiego sposobu wytopu ołowiu, [w:]
Historyczne dziedzictwo świętokrzyskiego hutnictwa miedzi i ołowiu, MWK, Kielce 2017, s. 114;
A. Rembalski, Związki dr. Stanisława Łaszczyńskiego z regionem świętokrzyskim i promocja jego
dokonań, [w:] Historyczne dziedzictwo…., s. 44.
The process of CuSO4 solution electrolysis has been demonstrated in the daily activities of the Park since 2010, and also during ‘Lead Smelting’ carried out since 1993, acquainting visitors with the invention and the biography of its author. The community of scientists and promoters of the history of technology in the Old Polish Basin came up with the plan to honour Dr Stanisław Łaszczyński with a commemorative plaque in Kielce, at the site of his death in the first days of World War II. This project was coordinated by prof. T. Karwan. The plaque reads: ‘Dr STANISŁAW ŁASZCZYŃSKI; 1872-1939; OUTSTANDING POLISH INVENTOR; AUTHOR OF THE FIRST PATENT OF 1902 FOR OBTAINING COPPER AND ZINC BY ELECTROLYSIS; SHOT IN KIELCE BY GERMAN SOLDIERS ON 5 SEPTEMBER, 1939’, and was unveiled on September 18, 2019, at the intersection of J. I. Paderewski and H. Sienkiewicz streets. The plaque designed by Magdalena Wrona, a graduate of the Faculty of Foundry Engineering of AGH-UST was founded by: the Mayor of Kielce, the Kielce Countryside Museum, the Metallurgical and Foundry Commission of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Faculty of Foundry Engineering of the AGH University; and was sponsored by: ZGH ‘Bolesław’ of Bukowno and the Metal-Kolor foundry from Starachowice which produced the plaque.
The economic and civic activity of both Łaszczyński brothers needed to be recognised where they mined, produced metals and resided in the Chęciny commune and in Miedzianka. A valuable initiative was taken to install a commemorative plaque of the Łaszczyński brothers and combine its unveiling ceremony with a scientific conference held in Miedzianka on September 20, 2021. The Metallurgical and Foundry Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences became its scientific patron. 14 papers were submitted, 10 of which were presented during the session. The conference materials were dedicated to prof. Tadeusz Karwan, PhD, Eng., and prof. Z. Wójcik, PhD. The articles were grouped into four sections:
This edition is completed by: An attachment with the reprints of 2 articles by the Łaszczyński brothers, papers by Dr Paweł Król Stanisław Łaszczyński on Polish geologists, or ‘A few remarks on the issue of Kielce copper’, which analyses publications from ‘Gazeta Kielecka’ from 1904 and Stanisław Łaszczyński’s trip to Turkestan as well as materials related to events commemorating the Łaszczyński brothers.
The paper by Anna Kulińska – The role of women in the Łaszczyński family – describes the lives of several generations of women of the family. It forms an unusual supplement to the brothers’ biographies from the perspective of their mothers, wives, daughters and granddaughters, and describes the role of women in carrying out the brothers’ economic mission and maintaining family traditions. The editors were surprised by the mention of Dr Lidia Dargiel-Sulir, granddaughter of Maria and Bolesław, an assistant professor at the Department of Solid State Physics, the AGH Institute of Metallurgy. The faculty was unaware of her relationship with the Łaszczyński family.
Michał Łaszczyński, in turn, presented the brothers’ biography based on the reminiscences of Stanisław Roman Łaszczyński, Bolesław’s son. This biography, described as inherently subjective by its author, presents the romanticism of the brothers’ economic activities as a kind of grassroot work of ‘pioneers of the noble idea of demonstrating national natural resources and the economic development of our country, who serve as a model of dedication and self-denial in the pursuit of their beloved idea’. Documents and memorabilia related to Miedzianka and the Łaszczyński family from the collection of the National Museum in Kielce are the subject of an article by Dr P. Król and Dr Anny Mader-Fijałkowska, PhD – Miedzianka and memorabilia of the Łaszczyński family in the collection of the National Museum in Kielce. Large sets of minerals and tangible memorabilia from the collection of prof. Jan Czarnocki and J. Fijałkowski as well as a collection of negatives and postcards from the deposit of M. Łaszczyński are presented.
In his article Traces of the Łaszczyński family in the collection of the Old Polish Mining and Metallurgy Museum, Warsaw, Stanisław Krupa presents various memorabilia associated with the Łaszczyńskis’ residence and activities in Miedzianka that he collected: family photographs, government documents, reproductions of Maria Łaszczyńska’s watercolors.
Konrad Maj, MSc, describes source documents on the activities of the Łaszczyński brothers from the collection of the State Archives in Kielce in his article Sources related to the activities of Stanisław and Bolesław Łaszczyński in the collection of the State Archives in Kielce. The archives have preserved documents of the companies: plans, court registers, process letters, title deeds, lease deeds, maps.
Prof. Z. Wójcik, Ph.D., wrote a paper entitled Miedzianka under Austrian occupation. His discussion of Miedzianka deposits is based on an analysis of the report by engineer Viktor Füerkranz, the Austrian mine manager. He elaborates on the theme of previously unknown minerals that were described by prof. Józef Morozewicz as staszicite, lubeckite and miedziankite.
Traces of mining in the area of Miedzianka are the subject of work by Dr Grzegorz Pabian Surface traces of mining activities in the area of Miedzianka Mountain – a geographical context. He describes changes taking place at selected former mining sites, classifying them as natural or anthropogenic. He also presents the initial concept for making selected facilities accessible to tourists.
Professor T. Karwan, PhD, Eng., Professor Mirosław Karbowniczek, PhD, Eng., and Dr Ireneusz Suliga, Eng. – Traditions and the present in the production of zinc in the Polish lands present the historical and contemporary technology of producing zinc – the second element after copper from the patent of Dr Łaszczyński. They describe the theoretical foundation of the hydroelectrometallurgical method of zinc production, which is now the main process for obtaining electrolytic zinc with a purity of 99.95-99.99% Zn.
The article by prof. T. Karwan and prof. Aldona Garbacz-Klempka From metallurgical research on the desilverization of lead with the cupellation methodconcerns the tradition of assaying and cupelling silver. Cupellation processes were used both in the process of removing silver from lead and the indirect process of removing silver from copper using lead. The description of the methods ends in the presentation of the Underground Olkusz exhibition opened in 2021, which can be a model for similar initiatives in the Miedzianka area.
The second important invention of the Łaszczyński brothers, the Miedziankit explosive, as described in the mining press and opinions of German scientists, is presented by prof. Andrzej J. Wójcik, Ph.D. in the following reports:The ‘Miedziankit’ Company of Sosnowiec and Miedziankit in the mining press. These articles demonstrate the timeless nature of difficulties in implementing inventions in the Polish economy.
Robert Jaworski, MSc, Eng., presents the outstanding natural features of the Chęciny Municipality, famous not only in the region and in Poland, but also internationally. He describes material cultural heritage sites refurbished and made available to scores of tourists in recent years.
Dr Andrzej Rembalski, in his article Miedzianka Mountain in the Chęciny Range of Świętokrzyskie Mountains as a tourist attraction in tourist literature discusses the bibliography of Miedzianka found in works from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Miedzianka has been described not only in encyclopaedias, but also in popular sightseeing and tourist guides. He also lists the works of authors who proposed making parts of the mine accessible for geotourism and teaching purposes.
The publication we have edited is interdisciplinary in nature. The reminiscences, sources and analyses of the activities of the Łaszczyński brothers, presented in a broad scientific, professional and social context, significantly expand and systematise the knowledge of the Łaszczyński family’s biography. This publication can form an excellent basis for starting work on a monograph of the Łaszczyński brothers as scientists, inventors, pioneers of hydroelectrometallurgy, mining entrepreneurs and civic activists.
We would like to thank the authors of papers and reports written free of charge for the conference. We would also like to thank the reviewers of the papers included in this volume, Professors Mirosław Karbowniczek and Zbigniew Wójcik.
We would like to thank the Mayor of the Chęciny Municipality, Robert Jaworski, MSc, Eng., members of the Chęciny Municipal Council, employees of its Office headed by Director Renata Janusz, and the Museum of Ore Mining in Miedzianka, where the ‘Łaszczyński Cabinet’ has been opened, residents of the surrounding villages and the ‘Miedzianeczki’ group.
The patronage of the Metallurgical and Foundry Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków Branch, headed by prof. Marek Dziarmagowski, PhD, Eng. was a significant factor.
Important assistance was provided by employees of State Archives in Kielce including its director, Wiesława Rutkowska, MSc.
The conference was preceded by the symbolic unveiling of a plaque commemorating the activity of the Łaszczyński brothers on the front of the Museum, attended by the grandson – Michał Łaszczyński, Krzysztof Słoń – the senator of the Republic of Poland, and Rafał Nowak – the Świętokrzyskie Deputy Voivod.
The plaque was founded and produced by the ‘Bolesław’ Mining and Metallurgy Plant in Bukowno with its CEO Bogusław Ochab and director Leszek Stencel, and by Metal-Kolor of Starachowice with its CEO Marcin Papaj.
This book was financed and published by the Świętokrzyska Grupa Przemysłowa Industria S.A. of Kielce, thanks to the kindness of its CEO Szczepan Ruman, MSc., Eng., and director Magdalena Szczukiewicz, MSc.
*Andrzej Rembalski, Ireneusz Suliga
Three companies – Energia Euro Park, Euro-Eko, Enervigo – have joined Łaszczyński Brothers Central Hydrogen Cluster. The aim is to produce green and stable energy based primarily on hydrogen.