Oval, struck on one side 'Royal Society, Edinburgh, Instituted 1783', and engraved on the reverse 'Daniel Rutherford, M.D.1783', length 3.7cm.
The son of Professor John Rutherford (16951779) and Anne Mackay, Daniel Rutherford was born in Edinburgh on 3 November 1749. He was educated at Mundell's School and Edinburgh University (MD 1772). He was a professor of botany at the University of Edinburgh and keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Best known for the discovery of nitrogen, Rutherford was asked initially by celebrated chemist, Joseph Black to investigate the properties of carbon dioxide. In 1772, in a series of experiments, Rutherford kept a mouse in a space with a confined quality of air until it died. The air was then passed through a carbon dioxide absorbing solution. Rutherford called the remaining gas (which we now know would have consisted primarily of nitrogen) 'noxious air' or 'phlogisticated air'.