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A.A. Damour

The French mineralogist Augustin Alexis Damour was born on July 19, 1808 in Paris. As a young man he worked in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he rose to the position of Undersecretary; however, he resigned his post in 1854, in order to be able to devote himself completely to mineralogical research. His first publications of mineral analyses appeared in 1837, and the last was published in 1893; thus he was scientifically active for a remarkable span of 56 years.

Damour lived part of the time in Paris, but also made scientific journeys to Central America and the Antilles, reporting his results in 1860. In 1862 he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Paris Academy; in 1878 he was elected to membership in the Institute of France; and in 1881, on the recommendation of von Kobell, he was elected to the Royal Bavarian Academy of Science.

Damour became famous for his investigations of the chemical compositions of minerals; during his 56-year career he analyzed an immense number of minerals in untiring and most careful work, becoming one of the first true experts in the chemical composition of minerals. He also discovered a number of new mineral species including faujasite, dumortietite, jacobsite, garnierite and others. Damour was able to recognize mixtures and identify the component minerals correctly. He also examined the chemistry of scorodite; copper silicates from various localities, four species of copper arsenates, chrysoberyl, the tellurwismuth of Brazil, euclase, adamite, uvarovite, harmotome, heulandite, gehlenite, dioptase, spinel, diaspore, olivine, jadeite, epidote, Madagascar beryl, cronstedtite, idocrase, andalusite, periclase, sapphirine, and tscheffkinite.

Damour also worked with some his colleagues on valuable investigations, including studies with the famous mineralogist des Cloizeaux on calabrerite from Laurium, Greece, gold and platinum sand, the optical and pyrogenetic characteristics of gadolinite, chalcomenite and arkansite. With the chemist Boussingault he studied the volcanic glass obsidian under high temperatures. With the chemist Saint Claire Deville he studied the nature of columbite.

In addition to these studies of the chemical compositions of the minerals, Damour also published information about various mineral localities, e.g. the occurrence of niobite and tantalite in Limoges, France, and the perovskite occurrence in Zermatt, Switzerland. He also wrote important papers on the physical properties of minerals, and had a lively interest prehistoric artifacts, including various objects of copper and silver, and a manufactured alloy of gold from South America.

On September 22, 1902 Damour died in Paris at the age of 93. His personal mineral collection was sold to F. Krantz (who was in charge of the Krantz mineral dealership between 1891 and 1926), probably shortly after his death. Damour was sufficiently famous that Krantz had special labels printed identifying the specimens from the Damour collection.

VOIT, C. (1904) Necrolog auf Augustin Alexis Damour. Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-physikalischen Klasse der K. B. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München, 33, 536-539.
LUCAS, C., and SICK, B. (2009) Augustin Alexis Damour: scientifique et collectionneur. Le Règne Minéral, no. 86, Les Editions du Piat.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - A.A. Damour Damour collection label, probably in Damour's handwriting. (Pierre Guiollard collection.)
The Mineralogical Record - A.A. Damour Handwritten Damour label with accompanying Krantz label. (Pierre Guiollard collection)
The Mineralogical Record - A.A. Damour 53 x 62 mm,
an F. Krantz label commemmorating a specimen from the Damour collection.
The Mineralogical Record - A.A. Damour 53 x 63 mm,
An F. Krantz label commemmorating a specimen from the Damour collection.
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