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Nobel’s Russian Connection

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Producing and Marketing Ballistite, 1889–1890

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Nobel’s Russian connection has surfaced recently in a letter sent by him to the Russian Minister of War, reporting on progress during 1889 and 1890 on his new smokeless powder, Ballistite. The letter was found in Swedish archives with other documents, indicating that Russian army officials maintained ties with Nobel, and received a large number of Ballistite samples. Nobel’s involvement with Russian development was not described before by major written sources in English. The documents have also exposed Nobel’s difficulties in production and marketing across Europe, from mid 1889 to mid 1890. The new findings are useful in understanding the ‘longue durée’ aspect of Ballistite, described only briefly in the literature.

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