The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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Austrian discoverer of petroleum; born in Galicia in the second decade of the nineteenth century; died after 1870. He was a merchant in Boryslaw, where he possessed some land. On this land was a hollow from which exuded a greasy, tarry secretion; this the farmers of the neighborhood had for a long time used as a kind of panacea. Schreiner took some of this stuff and, forming a ball of it, inserted therein a wick, which, when lighted, burned with a red flame. He now tried to distil the mass by filling an old iron pot with it and placing it upon the fire. The result was disastrous: the pot exploded, and the experimenter was severely injured. Schreiner, upon his recovery, went to an apothecary who sold him a distilling-apparatus and instructed him in its use. With this Schreiner succeeded in 1853 in producing petroleum, which he sold to the druggists in Drohobiez and in Sambor. Later he disposed of 100 pounds of it for 15 florins to the Lemberg chemist Nikolasen, who refined it and produced a colorless, clear liquid. The Austrian Northern Railway in 1854 bought 300 pounds of refined petroleum at 20 florins per hundredweightand tested it for illuminating purposes. Schreiner now sank wells and procured oil in larger quantities; but his buildings were twice burned, and after the last conflagration, in 1866, he became impoverished.

In the meantime the Americans had introduced petroleum to the world (1859), and Schreiner was no longer able to compete with them. He died a poor man at the age of about fifty.

  • Hugo Warmholz, in Von Fels zum Meer, reprinted in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. Feb. 10, 1904, pp. 69 et seq.
S. F. T. H.
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